Metaphysical Thought in SF and Utopia, Society for Utopian Studies, Milwaukee, October 28-31, 2010 (June 21 deadline)

full name / name of organization: 
Gib Prettyman
contact email: 

Papers are invited for one or more panels that explore relationships between the broad genre of sf and utopia and the broad category of metaphysical thought and belief. Historical or theoretical approaches from any discipline are welcome. Papers that touch on the theme of this year's conference—civil rights, social justice, and the Midwest—are especially encouraged.

Relationships between religion and utopian intentional communities are well documented, and the importance of religion in pre-20th century literary utopias (beginning with More's original) is clear. In the 20th century, religion and metaphysics came to be associated with the dangers of mass ideologies and frequently played a prominent role in dystopian literature. With the development of more nuanced genres at the end of the century—critical utopias, critical dystopias, post-apocalyptic utopias, and so on—the role of religion, spirituality, and metaphysical thought becomes more complicated.

Questions to address might include (but are not limited to): Does contemporary speculative fiction serve a cultural function similar to earlier writing in theology, mysticism, or other metaphysical modes? Do religion, spirituality, or metaphysical thought and belief of any kind have a "legitimate" place in "the desire called utopia"? What roles have metaphysical thought or belief played in sf and utopian genres (including dystopias) or in particular authors or texts? How are religious or spiritual concepts used to theorize the critical challenges of modern life and/or the principles of hope entailed by utopia, and what are the effects of this theoretical cross-fertilization?

Send proposals of 100 to 250 words by June 21, 2010 to Gib Prettyman at

About the conference: Founded in 1975, The Society for Utopian Studies is an international, interdisciplinary association devoted to the study of utopianism in all its forms, with a particular emphasis on literary and experimental utopias. Scholars representing a wide variety of disciplines are active in the association, and approach utopian studies from such diverse backgrounds as American Studies, Architecture, the Arts, Classics, Cultural Studies, Economics, Engineering, Environmental Studies, Gender Studies, History, Languages and Literatures, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology and Urban Planning. The annual SUS conference is a stimulating and welcoming place for scholars of all levels to share their work. More information about this year's conference in Milwaukee can be found on the Society's website at