Risen From the Ashes: Speculative Fiction at the End of the World - ASA 2015
This CFP is for the American Studies Association 2015 meeting (October 8-11) in Toronto, Canada.
In "Theses on the Philosophy of History," Walter Benjamin describes the angel of history, his body moving forward to the future while his face is turned back to the past, unable to unsee the destruction left in his wake. The angel of history would like to "awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed," yet the winds of progress render him incapable of stopping to fulfill this regenerative desire. Much as the angel of history is unable to rectify the misery the movement towards "progress" has engendered, this panel also speaks to the paradox presented by utopian desire: the unattainable yet vital look to the future, dreaming of better possibilities, that allows us to feel the limitations of the present. It is the angel's regard for the past that renders him impotent. But many change their regard, looking to the future to think about what comes next. This panel interrogates trends in American science and speculative fiction, attending to the imagined futures that proceed from the end of the world. After all, what could be more miserable than the end of the world?
We seek interdisciplinary scholarship that connects imagined apocalypses represented in literary and televisual science fiction texts, to social and political injustice such as police brutality, neocolonialism, and militarization. What rises from the ashes, or survives the fallout? How do we make sense of this survival? What potentialities arise from looking towards the future through the lens of the post-apocalypse? What alliances emerge in these contentious and violent spaces? What productive forms of resistance emerge from violence and misery? And ultimately, what do these imaginaries reveal about political life?
Our panel demonstrates the ways authors, visual artists, and performers of color invoke post-apocalyptic dystopian realities and transform history in order to represent current corporeal and metaphorical monstrosity and instances of haunting. These representations present active forms of resistance that reproduce misery and violence in order to simultaneously participate in and resist these forms of destruction and violence.