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188. New Approaches to Science Fiction Criticism

Thursday, 9 January, 7:00–8:15 p.m., McHenry, Chicago Marriott

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Science Fiction and Utopian and Fantastic Literature

Presiding: Rebekah Sheldon, Indiana Univ.–Purdue Univ., Indianapolis

1. "If This Goes On: Science Fiction, Planetary Crisis, and the Ecological Humanities," Gerry Canavan, Marquette Univ.

2. "Living in the Future: Science Fiction's Queer Cultural Politics," Alexis Lothian, Indiana Univ. of Pennsylvania

Alexis Lothian's Annotation:
Queer times break with the straight and narrow paths of reproductive futurism: lingering or refusing, flashing up in moments of ephemeral utopia or doubling back to reanimate the pleasurable and/or painful past. But where does the speculative narrative act of imagining the future –– frequently embodied in the genre of science fiction –– fit within this frame? This talk will draw from a larger project on speculative fiction and queer time that explores how science fictions by feminists, queers, and people of color engage in temporal critique by working through rather than against the normative temporalities that queer scholars including Lee Edelman, José Muñoz, and Elizabeth Freeman have identified. The practice and performance of affective world making has been central to queer temporal studies; I link it with the idea of world building, or concretely planning a fictional world, that is important in science fiction theory and criticism in both academic and fan cultures. Science fiction’s world building creates utopian visions, dystopian fears, and futuristic projections that can seem to uncritically reproduce normative life narratives and chronologies of technological progression. Drawing on fiction and theory by Samuel R. Delany as well as on feminist science fiction fan cultures’ grassroots practices of knowledge production, my talk will argue that new temporal frames emerge from the uses to which science fiction’s futures have been put. What practices make it possible to live inside such futures as they refract into the present?

A transcript of the paper will be available at

3. "Gauging Speculative Physics: Ontological Reading as Critical Practice in Fictions of Science," Clarissa Ai Ling Lee, Duke Univ.

4. "Jumping the Shark, Jumping the Page," Jamie Skye Bianco, New York Univ.


  • Genre, Theory, Method – Literary Criticism and Theory

  • Genre, Theory, Method – Themes, Myths, and Archetypes

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