MLA Panel: Science Fiction and Transgressive Identities

full name / name of organization: 
Stefan Hoppner
contact email: 

Modern Language Association Convention

January 8-11, 2015, Vancouver, Canada

Special Session: Science Fiction and Transgressive Identities

Science fiction has often been considered a narrative genre that is particularly well-suited for exploring alternative realities via speculative scenarios. Authors such as Fredric Jameson and Seo-Young Chu have suggested that these scenarios are much less investigations of our possible future or alternative past, as they are about the readers' present conditions. The impact of disruptive technologies or hypothetical models of social interaction can be explored and played through in some kind of narrative simulation and presents an analysis of present potential. Ursula LeGuin's non-gendered aliens, Octavia Butler's ternary gender constellations and interspecies relationships, or Isaak Asimov's concept of cybernetic consciousness are examples for a particular kind of exploration, namely of alternative identities and the fluid boundaries of what it means to be human. How do these identities and narratives disrupt and transgress their traditional counterparts? How does an author's cultural and historical background play into his or her specific conceptions of alternative identities and transgression?

This panel intends to explore how SF works as a narrative mode to negotiate identities beyond traditional gender and species boundaries, or the limits between human and non-human forms of existence. Contributions about non-Western and non-canonical Science Fiction writers are particularly welcome.

Please send 300-word abstract and short CV by March 10, 2014, to Stefan Hoeppner ( and Gerrit Roessler (