CFP: [20th] Contemporary Gothic Science Fiction (UK) (11/31/2007; collection)

full name / name of organization: 
Dr Sara-Patricia Wasson
contact email: 

Papers are sought for an uncontracted critical collection exploring gothic
traces in science fiction film and text since 1980. ‘Gothic science
fiction’ is a hybrid genre, even arguably oxymoronic: as Fred Botting
notes, unlike ‘gothic’, science fiction usually projects its contemporary
anxieties onto the future rather than the past. Recent forms of science
fiction like alternative history ‘steampunk’ may unsettle this
contradiction. Papers are invited which explore or challenge this hybrid
Since the gothic is a genre enacting cultural anxieties, gothic tropes in
contemporary science fiction can express a wealth of contemporary anxieties
over gender, race, class, sexuality, and age. Monstrous transformations
and disintegrations write large the dreads of each period. Such anxieties
are also written within the very spaces of text and film, with Anthony
Vidler’s “architectural uncanny” embodying ambivalence over urban change.
In his introduction to The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales, Chris Baldick
identifies the key characteristics of a Gothic text. According to Baldick,
such a text should comprise a ‘fearful sense of inheritance in time with a
claustrophobic sense of enclosure in space, these two dimensions
reinforcing one another to produce an impression of sickening descent into
‘disintegration’. (Baldick 1992 xiii). If this set of principles is
considered accordingly then the Gothic places emphasis on a conviction that
the protagonists will suffer or endure the consequences of actions and that
they are unavoidable, hence a ‘sense of inheritance’.
Similarly, the Gothic text often flourishes in spaces that imprison or
restrict efforts to move or exist comfortably and that the combination of
both circumstances creates the feeling of ‘disintegration’ or
‘fragmentation’. This recurrent preoccupation and fascination with the
psychological or mental instability that is a notable trope in the Gothic
novel, echoed by Linda Dryden who asserts that ‘Gothic fiction is often a
literature of transformations where identity is unstable’ (Dryden 19). For
Catherine Spooner, writing about the contemporary Gothic, this genre is
also preoccupied by ‘the legacies of the past and its burdens on the
present; the radically provisional or divided or ‘other’; the preoccupation
with bodies that are modified, grotesque or diseased (Spooner 2006: 8). To
this effect, the focus is firmly on the historical and its influence on the
contemporary, as well as the degeneration and breakdown of the body and the
mind. The key word here is ‘transformation’, thought this is not just
limited to the body or the mind.
Following a recent successful conference at Napier University, Edinburgh,
this uncontracted collection invites abstracts of 300 words on different
aspects of contemporary Gothic science fiction, engaging with literary
texts and films produced since 1980.
 Possible subjects for papers include, but are not limited to:
1) Gothic monstrosity and gender in science fiction
2) Gothic tropes enacting anxieties over gender/class/race/sexuality
3) Anthony Vidler’s “architectural uncanny”
4) Intersections between Moers’ ‘female gothic’ and contemporary texts
5) ‘terror’ versus ‘horror’ in recent texts
6) China Mieville
7) M. John Harrison
8) The Matrix
9) Iain M. Banks
10) Richard Morgan
11) James Blaylock
12) Maurice Renard
13) Richard Matheson
14) William Gibson and later revisions of cyberpunk gothic
15) ‘steampunk’ science fiction

The deadline for abstracts is 31 November 2007.
Please send a 100 word biography and 500 word abstracts as attachments in
Microsoft Word to Dr. Sara-Patricia Wasson (Napier University), s.wasson_
at_, and Martyn Colebrook (University of Hull), Please put “Contemporary Gothic
Science Fiction” in the subject line of the correspondence, as all
submissions will be filed electronically.

Decisions on abstracts will be forthcoming within a month of the deadline
and full papers will be expected in early 2008.

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Received on Sat Aug 04 2007 - 06:28:48 EDT