Re-Collections: Memory, History and Mindspace in Science Fiction
The Sixth International Symposium on the Poetics of Science Fiction
Memory, History and Mindspace in Science Fiction
Department of English and American Studies
and the Porter School of Cultural Studies,
17-18 March 2019
While science fiction excels at alternating between hopeful and bleak visions of possible futures, perhaps the most unsettling scenario the genre has to offer involves modification of individual and/or collective memory. So often thought of as the foundation of identity, memory has been shown to be unstable, malleable and subject to falsification. Science fiction writers have poked and prodded at the basic tenets of cognition and memory, constructing nightmarish visions of identity crises, fractured psyches, and mental projections with the depth and detail of an entire world. But memory is also a collective endeavor, shaping our cultural ontologies and our perception of history. Here as well, SF has shown how manipulation of collective memory is capable of generating dystopian societies and altering our perception of both past and future.
Whether hard or soft, space opera or cyberpunk, technological and ideological encroachment on our memories and minds remains a subject that continues to fascinate authors across space and time: from Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward to George Orwell’s 1984 to Octavia Butler’s Kindred, from Philip K. Dick’s “We Can Remember It For you Wholesale” to Roger Zelazny’s The Dream Master to Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life” (the basis for the blockbuster movie Arrival). Memory, both individual and collective, remains at the forefront of SF’s engagement with technological, social and psychological change.
Our conference, the sixth in the annual series of SF symposia, is jointly hosted by the Department of English and American Studies and the Porter School of Cultural Studies at Tel-Aviv University, and seeks to address cultural, historical, and narrative questions raised by representations of memory and the mental realm in science fiction. We welcome multimedia, transmedia and interdisciplinary proposals, from literary texts to film and television to video games and more. Topics can include, but are not limited to:
- Technological manipulation of memory (e.g. false memories, artificial memories, memory transfer/erasure, uploading minds)
- Artificial intelligence and memory
- The interrelation between mental, physical and virtual spaces in SF
- Alternative history and memory
- Memory and temporality (e.g. time travel)
- Posthuman and Transhuman memory
- Alien memory (e.g. “mind-melds” with alien species)
- Utopian/Dystopian memory
- Memory as commodity (e.g. cyberpunk)
- Memory and Nostalgia in the SF genre
- Digital ghosts and virtual memories
Proposals of up to 300 words for individual papers and/or panels are to be submitted alongside a short bio to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com by September 30, 2018. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by the end of October 2018.