Call for Contributors: Science Fiction in the Museum

A Special Issue of Configurations, to be published in early 2022

Editors: Verity Burke (Stavanger, Norway) and Will Tattersdill (Birmingham, UK)

“When a science-fiction protagonist experiences an epiphany in a museum the event enacts in a very precise way the preoccupations of the genre itself.”

Robert Crossley

Since Crossley wrote of Wells’s Palace of Green Porcelain in 1990, comparatively little work has sought to develop our understanding of the relationships between science fiction (sf) and museum spaces. Yet not only has sf continued to depict past and future sites of heritage - museum displays have themselves arguably absorbed and reflected sf’s thematic preoccupations and rhetorical techniques. This special issue of Configurations aims to focus on the breadth of interchanges between sf and museums, focussing on real life displays as well as fictitious institutions and inviting contributions from museum studies, literary criticism, STS, and any other interested disciplines.

We welcome papers that speak to any interpretation of the issue theme, including but by no means limited to discussions of:

  • Displays or exhibitions representing science fiction, or dedicated collections such as Allendale (UK) or the proposed Museum of Science Fiction in Washington, DC.
  • Sf considered as an element in museum displays about something else (science fiction as a means of scicomm, storytelling, or engagement).
  • The “science-fictionality” of modern museum display techniques (for example Augmented Reality).
  • The representation of the heritage sector in films, novels, comics and other sf media.
  • Science-fictional engagements with issues of object repatriation or postcolonial museum ethics (such as in Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti).
  • Displays which present ‘counterfactual’ histories or engage in some other way, explicitly or implicitly, with the contingency or speculation implied by sf.
  • Faux taxidermy and the display of mythical or fake animals; fake or hypothetical inventions or engineering; imagined alien (or ancient) life.
  • Any aspect of the conservation or archival preservation of sf’s materials (books, costumes, props, scripts, magazines, etc), or the representation of acts of conservation in published sf.

Articles of up to 10,000 words are invited for submission by 21st May 2021. Informal queries may be sent ahead of time to w.j.tattersdill@bham.ac.uk. House style is Chicago 16 - full details here. Essays will be fully peer reviewed.

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