Between fiction and society. Imagination and world building in the aftermath of a global pandemic

deadline for submissions: 
May 22, 2022
full name / name of organization: 

CFP: Between fiction and society. Imagination and world building in the aftermath of a global pandemic

Let’s take back the future!

Call for papers for an international conference on speculative fiction, science fiction, and fantasy fiction to be held in Milan, Italy, on 12-14 October 2022. The conference is organised and hosted by IULM University of Milan, in collaboration with the Complutense University of Madrid and the HISTOPIA research group.

Fields of interest: Literature, Cinema, Tv Series, Comics, Games/Video games, New Media, Cultural History.

For the past two years, we have been living in an alienating reality reminiscent of the dystopian narratives of several works of speculative fiction, due to a global pandemic. And in addition to Covid-19, we are currently facing a barrage of related problems, including the spread of disinformation and conspiracy theories, anti-scientism, growing environmental risks, the introduction of repressive policies, the restriction of civil and human rights in several countries around the globe, international crises, and the very possibility of a new world conflict. Traditionally, popular culture has been instrumental in providing tools to make sense of an increasingly complex situation. Moreover, it introduces the very possibility of resistance because even the darkest hour in the darkest story carries an instigation to mobilise, fight back, and reject the status quo. After all, as Eduardo Galeano argued, “utopia is on the horizon. I move two steps closer; it moves two steps further away. I walk another ten steps and the horizon runs ten steps further away. As much as I may walk, I’ll never reach it. So what’s the point of utopia? The point is this: to keep walking”.

Between fiction and society. Imagination and world building in the aftermath of a global pandemic urges a debate over speculative/science/fantasy fictions across different media, highlighting their relationships to history, society and to the contingent moment. Moreover, it encourages us to pay close attention to the influence that both utopian and dystopian narratives exert on everyday life, as they provide possible frameworks to rethink the current conditions and imagine alternatives.

How do novels, short stories, movies, TV series, comics, and video games imagine the apocalypse and what kind of scenarios do they envision? How do utopia and dystopia shape our culture and collective imagination? How do speculative/science/fantasy narratives change in times of global crisis? These are just some of the questions that this international conference, organised in the context of the electricdreams International Film Festival (“sognielettrici – Festival dell’immaginario fantastico e di fantascienza”), will try to answer.
Proposals may address, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • Pandemic, sci-fi, and history: how to deal with diseases in the collective imagination;
  • Utopia/Dystopia, popular culture and society: how speculative fiction reflects on reality and history;
  • Apocalypse and post-apocalypse: stories, fears, and solutions;
  • Critiques of established/Western canons;
  • Gender politics, queerness, ethnicity, disability, nationality, religious minorities, immigrants/refugees: representation of otherness in speculative fiction;
  • Post-colonial and neo-colonial perspectives;
  • Popular culture as a vehicle of social transformation;
  • Form of dissent, reform, rebellion, and conformity in the field;
  • Breaching boundaries in speculative fiction (language or otherwise)

The working language of the conference is English.

The Conference will be held in presence or in mixed-mode, according to the Covid situation.

We welcome proposals from researchers at all stages of development.

Please submit abstracts (maximum 300 words) for 20-minute papers, together with a short biography (maximum 100 words), and affiliation information to by May 22nd 2022.

We also welcome proposals for joint panels of three papers: please include a brief rationale for the panel along with an abstract and short bio for each presenter.

Organised by:

IULM University of Milan

In collaboration with:

Complutense University of Madrid, Faculty of Political Sciences and Sociology, Department of Political History, Theories & Geography
HISTOPIA research group

Important Dates:

Deadline for abstract submission: May 22nd, 2022
Notification of acceptance: May 31st, 2022
Deadline for participant confirmation: June 9th, 2022

The international conference will take place on 12-14 October 2022 at IULM University in Milano (Italy), during “sognielettrici / electricdreams International Film Festival” (11-15 October 2022).

Conference fee: 35€

Scientific Committee:

Matteo Bittanti
Elisabetta Di Minico
Stefano Locati
Francisco José Martínez Mesa
Juan Pro

Contact Info:

Elisabetta Di Minico ( and Stefano Locati (