International group of scholars examines science fiction through national and cultural traditions

March 1, 2013

Key note address with reading and musical performance, Friday, March 8, 4 p.m.; Screening of Cloud Atlas, Friday, March 8, 7 p.m. Symposium Saturday, March 9, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free and open to the public.

Wellesley, Mass., March 1, 2013 – 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 Wellesley College in March.

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 tiled “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.

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 included below.

Saturday, March 9, Symposium Schedule
All events will take place in Wellesley College’s Collins Cinema, 106 Central Street, Wellesley, Mass. The names of some of the presentations may be subject to change.

8:30 - 9:00 a.m. – Coffee

9:00 - 9:15 a.m. – Opening Remarks

9:15 - 10:45 a.m. – Panel 1: Globalization and Transculturation: Familiar and Alien Worlds, Chair: Lawrence Rosenwald (Wellesley College)

  • “This Fractal, Alien World: SF in the Global Moment,” Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr. (DePauw University)
  • “Remixing Science Fiction in Latin America,” Andrew Brown (Washington University)
  • “Great Wall Planet: The Estrangement of Chinese Science Fiction,” Veronica Hollinger (Trent University)

11:00 - 12:30 p.m. – Panel 2: Transgressive Possibilities: Ancient Epic, Space Opera, and Cultural Politics, Chair: David Ward (Wellesley College)

  • “Ramayana-based Science Fiction: Transgressive Possibilities,” Vandana Singh (Writer, Framingham State University)
  • Galaxy Goes South: Argentine Science Fiction and the Era of the Global Space Age,” Rachel Haywood Ferreira (Iowa State University)
  • “The Italian (Milky) Way to Science Fiction,” Jadel Andreetto (Independent Writer)

12:30 - 1:30 p.m. – Lunch

1:30-3:00 PM Panel 3: The New Order: The Postcolonial, the Post-Cold War, and the Posthuman, Chair: Rosalind Williams (MIT)

  • “Race, Nation, and Imperial Anxieties in Black Science Fiction from the Nadir,” Lysa Rivera (Western Washington University)
  • “Global and Science-Fictional Dimensions of the Korean Demilitarized Zone,” Seo-Young Chu (Queens College, CUNY)
  • “Beyond the Body: Posthuman Adolescents in Gantz,” Miri Nakamura (Wesleyan University)

3:00 - 3:30 p.m. – Coffee

3:30-5:00 p.m. – Panel 4: Terrorized Planet: Melancholia of the Future History, Chair: David Der-wei Wang (Harvard University)

  • “Apocalyptic Utopias: Miyazaki Hayao and the Possibility of Nostalgia for the Future,” Susan Napier (Tufts University)
  • “Revolutionary Resistance and the Totalitarian State: The Specter of the West German RAF in Juli Zeh’s The Method,” Patricia Melzer (Temple University, Wellesley College Newhouse Fellow)
  • “2066, Red Star over America: Utopia and the Uncanny in Chinese Science Fiction,” Mingwei Song (Wellesley College)

About Wellesley College
Since 1875, Wellesley College has been the preeminent liberal arts college for women. Known for its intellectual rigor and its remarkable track record for the cultivation of women leaders in every arena, Wellesley—only 12 miles from Boston—is home to some 2300 undergraduates from every state and 75 countries.

Press Contacts
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