CFP, NEMLA Spaces of Hope and Desperation in Science Fiction

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Elif Sendur/ Binghamton University
contact email: 

If we reflect on Vivian Sobchak’s premise of science fiction’s role of reconciling humans with the unknown along with cyborg spaces of Haraway, we can easily perceive that today one of speculative/science fiction’s roles is imagining what is happening and what may happen to help us come to terms with a dreaded present and unstable future. Amidst the very real and imminent threats of environmental disasters, rise of nationalism and racism and an expanding precarity, it should not be a surprise to see the fast increase in the sales of Orwell’s 1984, re-makes of Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell or appearance of SF works where strangers, aliens, and others are rethought and replaced in our topological frameworks.

Amidst all the wars, deaths, fears, and tremblings, it may be useful to remember Susan Sontag’s now classic essay “Imagination of the Disaster” where speculative or science fiction and especially dystopian fiction operates in a space between “unremitting banality and inconceivable terror." In this liminal space, SF intervenes in two ways: By giving us a language, a discourse, a perspective to think the unthinkable including our own end and our possible resistance. With the same gesture, it also provides us with the means of expressing some of the effects of such terror and precarity to those who may not be open to the same affects, creating a space of communication.

In short, science fiction both imagines a dystopian, lost, dark space signaling what may happen while, with the very same gesture, pinpointing ways to create possibility of other perceptions, other spaces of hope. This double imagination is exactly what Octavia Butler does when she thinks of a merge with Oankali and rebuilding of Earth, Jeff VanderMeer imagines with Area X trilogy and other ways to relate to the nature or what Kabaneri of Iron Fortress presents with a terrain filled with viral humans.

This panel aims to consider speculative/science fiction’s spatial imagination vis-à-vis hope and despair. Topics may include the kinds of dystopian spaces SF proposes, space and its spatial representation, gendered spaces within the SF genre, environment and its future imagined by SF, and the representation of the instability or hope. All forms of SF literature, including short stories, novels, films, anime, manga, and TV shows are welcome.


Please submit an abstract of 300- 500 words along with your brief bio to NEMLA submission website  by September 30, 2017  :