Science Fiction Conference Explores International Themes

March 6, 2013

Global Science Fiction Conference Explores Sci-Fi Across National, Cultural traditions

"Global Science Fiction Conference" text on image from Cloud Atlas

UPDATE, March 8, 1:30 PM - The Global Science Fiction Conference is ON as scheduled. Keynote address begins at 4 PM in the Collins Cinema.

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How does national imagery function within the science fiction genre? How are the familiar utopian and dystopian themes found in science fiction deployed in different national literary contexts? How does science fiction engage with imperialism and post-colonialism in a global literary context? These are some of the questions that will be explored in a two-day public symposium to be held this weekend on campus.

The Susan and Donald Newhouse Center for the Humanities at Wellesley College will host a Global Science Fiction Conference on March 8 and 9 designed to bring the community and scholars together to explore the genre of science fiction as it is presented in various national and cultural traditions. Discussions will look at what it means to write in a global context rather than how globalization has affected science fiction.

“Science fiction has become increasingly a global genre in the sense that deep down, in our imagination of the future history, no nation could stand alone,” said Mingwei Song, assistant professor of Chinese at Wellesley College and one of the organizers of the conference. “The clashes, interactions, and negotiations of different cultural traditions are making today's science fiction into a genre that speaks a unique voice transcending national consciousness. Also, deep down in the science fictional dimension of our culture, there is a utopian desire for a shared experience of humanity when facing future progress, or the end of the world.”

The event kicks off with a keynote address on Friday, March 8 at 4 p.m. Renowned science fiction author Andrea Hairston will read from her novel Redwood and Wildfire and give a short talk titled “Conjuring the Future: Post-colonial Divination,” addressing science fiction and fantasy in the age of globalization. Hairston will be accompanied by live music performed by award-winning vocalist and instrumentalist Pan Morigan. A reception will follow with a screening of the film Cloud Atlas beginning at 7 p.m. Wellesley College lecturer and co-director of Wellesley’s Cinema and Media Studies program Winifred Wood will host the film screening.

Song said he chose the film Cloud Atlas, in part “because its storyline connects different people from different times and locations, so the film itself presents an image of 'global science fiction'.”

On Saturday, March 9, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. an international group of scholars will participate in a series of panel discussions exploring the genre of science fiction as it is presented across the globe. The full schedule for the March 9 symposium is available from the Newhouse Center website.

All events take place in the Collins Cinema and are free and open to the public.


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