Sublime Cognition: Science Fiction and Metaphysics

deadline for submissions: 
May 1, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
London Science Fiction Research Community
contact email: 

Deploying the broad catch-all of ‘metaphysics’, this conference will explore SF’s lost history of engagement with myth, magic, religion and the supernatural. Central areas of focus will include an assessment of what role (if any) metaphysical phenomena have played in science fiction, and to what degree SF can be distanced from the spiritual, supernatural and numinous concerns of other literatures of the fantastic. Assessing SF’s complex relationship with the metaphysical opens into many productive areas of inquiry: How can science fictional texts help us understand broader cultural processes of knowledge formation and paradigm shift? In what way have references to religious cultures and institutions been used to reinforce or undermine normative gender roles in SF texts? How do treatments of metaphysical phenomena in Western SF differ from those which originate in other areas of the globe? How important are the symbols, tropes and imagery of an array of global religious traditions to the quality of enchantment that is as vital to SF as any other fantastic genre?

The conference will feature keynote addresses by Roger Luckhurst (Birkbeck) and Helen de Cruz (Oxford Brookes), as well as a roundtable with authors Justina Robson and Jeff Noon, and author/scholar Fiona Moore (Royal Holloway), moderated by Jim Clarke (Coventry)

Conference organizers: Rhodri Davies (PhD, Birkbeck), Aren Roukema (PhD, Birkbeck), Francis Gene-Rowe (PhD, Royal Holloway)

Submit abstracts of up to 300 words for 20 minute papers by 1 May 2018 to Two- to three-speaker panel proposals are also welcome. Please include a brief bio (c. 50 words).

Full CfP: