Messengers from the Stars / Episode VI
Messengers from the Stars / Episode VI
School of Arts and Humanities, University of Lisbon
November 26-27, 2020
Nature and Overnature in SF and Fantasy Discourses
Science Fiction and Fantasy are acknowledged fields of inquiry that for long have allowed us to put to the test our contemporary perceptions of the world. As privileged means to question issues of aesthetic, ethical, political, social, economic, historical and environmental nature with great impact on contemporary societies, they have also promoted cutting edge approaches and rich critical debate in literature as well as cinema, TV and videogames among other media. Given the relevance of these fields in (and out) the academic field, the University of Lisbon Centre for English Studies (ULICES) invites you to take part in the 6thInternational Conference Messengers From the Stars: On Science Fiction and Fantasy to be held at the School of Arts and Humanities, University of Lisbon, on November 26-27, 2020. This year, Episode VI will focus on the theme “Nature and Overnature in SF and Fantasy Discourses.”
Since Humankind’s early days, our relationship with nature has undergone different stages. From fear and antagonism to deep integration or attempt at subjugation, human beings have tried to understand their environment and make the most of it. Therefore, in this year’s conference we aim at addressing the following questions: “What is our bond with Nature? Are we part of it or are we its destroyers?”; “What will be the consequences of our former and current actions towards Nature?”; “Are we the dominant species or is it just a human delusion?”; “What is the connection between Nature and social environment?” Also, under scrutiny is our inner nature, either as an immaterial everlasting sector or as a mutable human feature: “In distancing ourselves from Nature are we losing our (natural) humanity?”; “Are we more or less naturally human than our ancestors?”; “How has technology challenged the nature of our humanity?”; “Are we becoming over-natural?”; “Is there a universal human nature or do we embrace plural human natures?”
These are ever present themes in Fantasy narratives, as masterly explored in Tolkien’s Legendariumand C. S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles, as well as in many other 20thand 21stcentury authors, such as Ursula Le Guin’s Earthseacycle. They are also at the core of many SF visions, since the very beginning of the genre with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, H. G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreauand John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids, to name just a few.
Inspired by these pioneering texts and fed by advances in technology, such issues have become more and more complex in Fantasy and SF literature, cinema, TV series, comics and graphic novels, music, and other art forms. Moreover, we are witnessing a turning point in our relationship with nature, the most dramatic since our existence, which has clearly raised new doubts and anxieties but also new forms of self-awareness about our role in the world. This is the time to find responsible solutions able to create a healthier future for today’s and future generations.
We welcome papers of 20 minutes as well as joint proposals for thematic panels consisting of 3 to 4 participants. Postgraduate and undergraduate students are also welcomed to participate.
Topics may include but are not limited to the following:
- Artificial Intelligence;
- Fantasy, SF and ethics;
- Human nature and natural environment;
- Nature/overnature and the human body;
- Natural and social environment;
Individual papers, as well as thematic panel proposals, should have 250 words maximum and be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org along with a short biographical note (100 words maximum) by May 29, 2020.
Notification of acceptance will be sent by July 5, 2020.
Working Languages: Portuguese and English
Early bird registration: July 5 –14 September
100 € / Students: 60 €
Late bird registration: 14 September – 19 October
150 € / Students: 80 €
- Only after proof of payment is registration effectively considered.
- Participants are responsible for their own travelling arrangements and accommodation.
- Undergraduate and post-graduate students must send proof of student status with their registration.
- All sessions are free. However, participants who are not presenting (or co-authoring) and wish to have access to the conference materials and coffee breaks can benefit from a special registration rate: 20€. Registration: June 5 – 26 November.
 The fee includes attendance at all sessions, conference material, coffee breaks and a certificate of participation.