CFP: [Science] Contemporary science fiction dreams of tomorrows

full name / name of organization: 
Danièle ANDRE
contact email: 

Call for papers
July 25-August 3, 2009

        Science fiction may have been the only source of myths that were born with
our century. Indeed, under the guidance of its authors’ powerful
imaginations (whatever their fields), it has offered the broadest panel
of representations of our contemporary world ever. To understand the
reality of the world around us, science fiction has unceasingly put it to
the test by hunting down its possible futures. The genre has sought to
answer age-old questions about the origin of life and its place in the
universe by projecting the questioning on a scale that matched its
pervasiveness and variety of expressions in human history.
        It is therefore also legitimate to look upon science fiction as a way to
bring answers to philosophical questions. The speculative projections of
the scientific, technological, biological or social possible futures of
mankind ground metaphysical questions into everyday life and submit their
predictive answers to time. The plausibility/coherence of the projections
are gauged by contemporary reader; their exactitude, or prophetic value, by
history. There are countless examples of science fiction works that have
foretold major changes in human societies when they were mere possibilities
and were meant to be thought experiments. Science fiction thus casts
towards the future a look rooted in its here and now.
        As it appears, there have been no major scientific revolutions since the
1950s, and as the future offered by science fiction as hypotheses has
nearly become reality, it is indeed time to raise the following questions
: does science fiction still have a future? What vision of a possible
future can science fiction offer now?
        Submissions are encouraged in fields that include: film, visual and media
studies, literature, science, communication, language studies,
linguistics, women and gender studies, history, psychology, philosophy,
religion, social sciences, cultural studies and popular culture.

        Submissions in literature must be restricted to this guideline:
       Despite their reputation of elitist writers, the modernists have
largely resorted to popular-art models and genres. These influences have
been highly camouflaged, though. Contemporary mainstream writers â€" whether
the term “postmodernists” is deemed acceptable or not â€", on the contrary,
openly advertise theirs. Yet what about science fiction writers? What are
their current major influences? Do they still draw their inspiration from
masters from the past or have they succeeded in freeing themselves from
them? Have they remained focused on their own achievement or do they
display some curiosity towards mainstream breakthroughs? If so, then, will
the race forward in updating the models â€" now at last in pace with our
fast-developing technology â€" entail a literature and a science fiction
deprived of intertextuality, and will it leave room enough to new
paradigms? Is science fiction necessarily looking back toward its past ? Is
mainstream literature so deteriorating that it now needs to feed on genres
it used to hold in contempt? How do they both regard pastiche ?
Those notions of influence, deviation, evolution and reciprocity are the
ones we would like to see tackled.

        Possible subjects for papers include, but are not limited to:

-Considering its link with images, can science fiction get renewed through
means other than cinema and television (video games, the Internet,
installations in amusement parks)? How have those new media transformed
science-fiction as a (sub-)cultural phenomenon? How has digital convergence
transformed science-fiction universes and modes of representation?

- How has the continuous process of hybridization with other genres
affected science-fiction itself? It is no new idea (f.i Mondwest 1973, or
Blade Runner 1982), however it has found some fertile grounds in works by
such atypical directors as Miike (Dead or Alive) or Kurosawa (Kaïro) or in
television series like The 4400 or its predecessors The X-Files and Twin
Peaks. What are the new generic hybrids? Where do new models come from? Is
hybridization a sign of renewal through elements borrowed from, for
example, Eastern cultures? Is it on the contrary the symptom of a crisis,
the sign of an inability for the genre to renew its problematics on its
own terms?

-In the context of global market and warming, the vision of mankind on a
large scale and the inscription of everyday life in the future world it
implies, which were once defining features of science-fiction, have become
consensual. This inscription of projection in our perception of reality
corresponds to the development of various forms of narratives, at the
crossroads between documentary and fiction (from docu-fictions drawing on
projection models, such as the The Great Flood: Paris 2010 or the Sinking
of Japan, 2006, to docu-manifestos such as An Inconvenient Truth, 2006,
projected on the same blockbuster screen as The Day After Tomorrow, 2004).
How do the politics of projection affect the poetics of science-fiction?

-Can science fiction regenerate via civilizations other than those that
gave birth to its major works (can Asia, for instance through mangas,
bring something new and revitalizing ?)

-Can science fiction prolong its life by continuing to draw upon the same
myths set in futuristic surroundings (Matrix, Star Wars, Cryptonomicon, The
Fountain) or on the contrary should it find new forms which would in turn
lead to new problematics (Twentieth century Boys, Tetsuo)?

        Papers must be in English or in French (papers in English will have to be
given ahead of the conference so as to be translated for non-English
speakers). Abstracts submissions should be approximately 550 words in
length. Presentations last for 40 minutes and be followed by 20 minutes of
questions and answers.

        The deadline for abstract submissions is May 1, 2008. Notifications will
be mailed on July, 2008. Completed articles should be submitted in May
2009. The conference will be held at The International Conference Center of
Cerisy-la-salle (CCIC, 50210 Cerisy-la-Salle, France phone: 02 33 46 91 66
 Fax : 02 33 46 11 39, Normandy, July
25-August 3, 2009.

        Abstracts and articles must be sent to the three organizers :

ANDRE Danièle ( University of Corsica)
TRON Daniel (University of Poitiers and Angers)
VILLERS Aurélie (Ph D University of Nice)

        Please include complete contact information (name, home address, email,
phone, affiliation if any) along with a short CV.
        Conference registration and housing reservations will be possible in 2009,
the Cerisy Conference Center hosts the contributors (full lodging and
catering). Contributors will be contacted by the center (for full details
regarding the arrival and departure dates, prices, and reductions),
throughout the year preceding the conference.
        For further information please feel free to contact the organizers.

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Received on Tue Oct 23 2007 - 08:41:31 EDT