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Humanities Division, Essex County College
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On March 11-12, 2015, the Humanities Division at Essex County College, located in Newark, NJ, will host its Spring 2015 Conference, "Speculative Humanities: Steampunk to Afrofuturism/Octavia E. Butler and the "Unexpected." This two-day conference offers space for writers, historians, musicians, artists, and academicians to explore, expand upon, and rethink the implications of speculative humanities. This year's conference will feature a special emphasis on the life, work, and influence of Octavia E. Butler. We also encourage papers on her recently published works.

Speculative humanities encompasses a diverse array of works, from the 18th century mysticism of Swedenborg to the 20th century spiritual teachings of Gurdjieff, along with the 19th century texts of authors such as Mary Shelley, Samuel Butler, and Jules Verne to the 20th and 21st century works of H.G. Wells, Octavia E. Butler, Margaret Atwood, Samuel Delany, Cormac McCarthy, and L.A. Banks. The revolutionary wave sweeping across Europe during the 19th century along with the publication of works such as The Communist Manifesto influenced generations of writers to produce works featuring both urban utopias and dystopian metropolises. Historical and fictional texts include post-apocalyptic narratives, invasion literature, steampunk, Afrofuturism, fantasy, fan fiction, fabulist, anime, horror, and what was once categorized as science fiction.

Open to all humanities disciplines—literature, music, history, religion, philosophy, art, architecture, theater, dance, and media—we invite papers, panel presentations, screenings, and performances of works that can be included in the admittedly broad category of "speculative humanities." We welcome interactive, unorthodox panels, screenings, exhibits, musical performances, and other presentations related to our central theme. Again, papers on the work of Octavia E. Butler are especially encouraged for submission, as two special panels devoted to her work are being planned.

Please email (abstracts of 250-300 words) for panels and individual presentations to both of the conference chairs: Prof. Jennifer Wager (jwager@essex.edu) and Prof. Rebecca Williams (wrebecca@essex.edu) by Sunday, January 16, 2015.