Speculative Figures and Speculative Futures: Our Uncanny Postapocalypse

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Creative Panel - NeMLA (Northeast Modern Language Association)

Speculative Figures and Speculative Futures: Our Uncanny Postapocalypse

Chairs: Tommy Mayberry (St. Jerome’s University at the University of Waterloo) and Tommy Bourque (Western University)


Mary Shelley, in her classic piece of speculative fiction and of speculative visual culture, Frankenstein (1818), sparked life into a body that started an unending conversation around being alive and our own identities as living. And in the intersecting centuries from Shelley to today, Freud has established the uncanny, Kristeva has ignited notions of abjection and of horror, and a plethora of creative agents (writers, artists, musicians, etc.) have continued to stoke these flames. Visual artist David Altmejd, for example, explores themes of science fiction and gothic romanticism to create postapocalyptic visions in his work that embraces decay in balance with regeneration to specifically “provoke that shiver of the uncanny.”[1] And in a research-creation project that she calls “scholarly vidding,” Alexis Lothian merges “[v]idding and multimodal writing [as] a space to explore scholarly ideas in diverse registers” as she positions in her work “utopia as a vision of perfection that is also an end, and dystopia as a negative imaginary that participates in the creation of worlds.”[2] This Creative Session, carrying forth Shelley’s torch, seeks creative contributions of all kinds that participate in and continue to spark, stoke, and ignite these conversations with speculative figures, speculative futures, and uncanny—and even otherworldly—postapocalyptic creativity.

We are specifically interested in artworks and creative contributions that are assessments of posthuman bodies and that embody abject and uncanny ideology through their written, oral, aural, and/or visual aesthetic. Poetry, fiction, nonfiction, sound and video work, digital animation, photography, performance, sculpture, and any and all hybrids in-between. In addition to being a creative showcase, this session also seeks to push the boundaries not only of Cultural Studies, Media Studies, and Interdisciplinary Humanities but of traditional conference panels, too, to include innovative uses of technology and of participation in its dissemination and conversation.


Abstracts/Proposals (300 words max.) are due online by September 30th, 2019. Please submit abstracts/proposals online at https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/18782

For inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact either Tommy Mayberry (tommy.mayberry@uwaterloo.ca) or Tommy Bourque (tbourqu2@uwo.ca).


[1] “David Altmejd,” White Cube, accessed March 31, 2020, https://whitecube.com/artists/artist/david_altmejd.

[2] Lothian, Alexis. 2018. Old Futures: Speculative Fiction and Queer Possibility. New York: New York University Press. 251; 248; 25.