As the third millennium progresses, science and technology more than ever govern human lives, and the topic of science and/in fiction shows no signs of decline, neither in terms of artistic production nor as an area of critical inquiry. As several critical accounts of the field of 21st century literature note, writers address contemporary issues such as environmental catastrophes and international conflicts, the proclaimed turn to precarity and the future of the planet and of humanity. Yet, at the same time, writers also appear disposed to look back, continuing to make the past and issues of time, history and temporality dominant concerns. But the question arises of what this turn to the past means in view of our narrative engagement with technology, projections of the future and its place in human life today and in times to come: (how) can it be that literature set in the 19th and 20th centuries imitates earlier styles and techniques and engages with technologies that once had a frightening impact but have become part of our reality long ago? How do these trends relate to the typically speculative view of science fiction? What happens to the characteristic orientation towards futuristic science and settings and, on the other hand, to conceptions of realism? Considering, for instance, the booming genres of Neo-Victorian fiction, adaptations and re-tellings, (how) can it be that upon entering the new millennium, writers seem to find greater imaginative stimulus in the past than in the present and the future?
The edited collection of essays aims to address current directions in fictional science narratives in different media. It brackets questions of scientific accuracy and the well-trodden path of the ‘two cultures’ debate to explore what modes, forms, and genres emerge and dominate in the 21st century. Aside from tracing new and old boundaries between kinds of knowledge, modes of narration and perceiving reality, and between facts and fiction, the ethical dimension of the question ‘can it be’ might include narrative representations of risk, fear, and cultural assumptions about scientists and the research enterprise.
We invite contributions that address 20th century developments from a 21st perspective, as well as theoretical reflections on new trends and movements, surveys and close readings of narratives, including novels, drama, film, young adult fiction, and graphic fiction.
Papers may deal with (but are of course not limited to) the following topics and interrelations:
- Science and genre, e.g. the historical novel, thriller, satire, fantasy, dystopia, transrealism, and life-writing
- Science and ethics
- Science and religion, secularism
- Science and/as terror
- Science and (post)human identity
- Science – still between fascination and fear?
Please send 300-500 words abstracts to Dr Nina Engelhardt (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dr Julia Hoydis (email@example.com).
Deadline for submission of abstracts: 01.02.2017.
Notice of acceptance: 01.03. 2017.
Deadline for submission of papers (7000 words): 01.01.2018