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CFP: Finncon 2019 Academic Track
Jyväskylä July 5–7, 2019

AI Meets Tolkien: Non-Human Minds in Speculative Fiction

The organization committee of Finncon and the Finnish Society for
Science Fiction and Fantasy Research (Finfar) are happy to announce that
Finncon 2019 will once again feature an academic programming track! As
in previous years, the track is intended as multilingual and
interdisciplinary, and it will be free of charge and open to everyone
interested in the research of speculative fiction. The aim of the track
is to employ various academic frameworks and approaches in order to
examine the themes and issues discussed in science fiction, fantasy,
horror, and other genres of speculative fiction.

As per usual, the academic track aims to follow the overall themes of
Finncon, which means that this year’s programming will center on
artificial intelligence on the one hand, and J.R.R. Tolkien on the other
hand. AI has slowly but surely crept from the novels, TV screens and
geeky daydreams to our everyday lives. In other words, the theme now
covers everything from familiar smartphones and search engines to
dystopic Skynets and machine uprisings. It is not only AI sci-fi that
probes the threats and possibilities of non-human intelligence, however.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic works also depict creatures that are as
conscious of themselves as humans, but differ from us in various other
ways. Indeed, where thinking machines are a central topic in science
fiction, fantasy and horror have investigated multifarious other kinds
of non-human minds, such as the minds of fairies, orcs, and monsters.

The Academic Track of Finncon 2019 thereby welcomes 20-minute oral
presentations whose topics could include but are not limited to:
– Artificial life
– The relationships between the humankind and intelligent technology
– Non-human creatures and their conscious or non-conscious activities
– The relations between human and non-human characters and societies
– Depiction or narration of minds and intelligences in speculative
– Cognition and speculation

Although literature has traditionally been considered the cradle of
speculative fiction, the presentations can also discuss works from other
media, including comics, digital games, films and TV shows. You are
welcome to give your presentation in Finnish, English or Swedish.

If you would like to participate in the academic programming and
introduce your research to the wide, enthusiastic audiences of Finncon,
please send a 300-word abstract and a short bio to by April 30, 2019. Pdf- and .docx files are
both accepted. Presenters chosen for the academic track will be
contacted personally in late spring or early summer.

The Finnish Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research is also
planning other informal activities for Finncon, which all presenters are
welcome to join. Furthermore, before the main event, Finfar will
organize a traditional paper workshop at the University of Jyväskylä.
Everyone interested in speculative fiction research, especially students
working on their MA theses or doctoral dissertations, are invited to
send in short works-in-process papers to be discussed in the workshop.
Further details will be announced at a later date.

For more information on Finncon events and Finfar’s activities, please
consult the websites:

On behalf of Finfar:

Sanna Tapionkaski, FT / PhD
Yliopistonlehtori, Kieli- ja viestintätieteiden laitos, Jyväskylän yliopisto
Senior Lecturer, Department of Language and Communication Studies,
University of Jyväskylä