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Call for Papers: Access and Science Fiction: The Sixth Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium
December 9, 2021
We would like to thank everyone at City Tech who has helped make the annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium a success! Our sixth annual event is scheduled to take place on Thursday, Dec. 9 with the theme of “Access and Science Fiction.” Please read the call for papers below, consider submitting a proposal by Oct. 15, and share the CFP through your professional networks. After the CFP deadline, we will share information about the program on the Science Fiction at City Tech website (https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/sciencefictionatcitytech/). Even if you don’t submit a proposal, we invite you and your students to attend and take part in the discussion.
Very best, Jason Ellis on behalf of the Organizing Committee: Jill Belli, Wanett Clyde, Lucas Kwong, and A. Lavelle Porter
Location: Online, Sponsored by the School of Arts and Sciences at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY.
One of the pressing issues that came up during last year’s symposium on Race and Science Fiction (SF) concerned access to the genre in terms of opportunities to create, enjoy, celebrate, identify with, and connect with others. Access, of course, is a shared concern of many historically marginalized and oppressed groups, including women, the disabled, LGBTQ+ persons, and the working class. While it’s obvious that issues of access were an important concern before the pandemic, problems with access were amplified and intensified in startling ways, including: bookstore and library closings expanded and created new book deserts; lockdowns closed off easy access for social interaction, community participation, and mentorship; and reduced access to computers, Internet access, and quiet spaces derailed education and business opportunities for many.
These issues with access before and during the pandemic extend to SF. William Gibson’s aphorism, “The future has arrived–it’s just not evenly distributed yet,” offers a conceptual lens for this. While Gibson’s use of the term “future” equates to the technoscientific, we can substitute SF as representing many imagined futures, and those futures represented by SF are not yet evenly distributed in terms of access to the genre for creators, readers, fans, and critics. Lack of access isn’t only a problem for those who might find enjoyment, meaning, and community through SF in the present; it’s also a potentially long term problem that might affect the types of stories that are produced, what characters get created, and who gets to make them. These different aspects of access and SF were of importance when we met last year, but they are even more so now for all affected SF creators, fans, and scholars concerned about what the shape of things to come will be for access and SF.
The Sixth Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium aims to explore the broad theme of “Access and SF” as a way to understand the relationship between access and SF, identify what’s at stake and for whom, foster alliances between those fighting for access, and discuss how improving access for some improves access for all.
We invite proposals for 10-20 minute scholarly paper presentations or 40-60 minute panel discussions related to the topic of Access and SF. Please send a 250-word abstract with title, brief 100-150-word professional bio, and contact information to Jason Ellis (firstname.lastname@example.org) by October 15, 2021. Topics with a connection to Access and SF might include but certainly are not limited to:
– Access to Science Fiction for an Audience (reading text, watching films, playing video games, listening to music, etc.) – Access to Science Fiction as a Fan (fandom, community, blogging, vlogging, cons, online, etc.) – Access to Science Fiction as a Creator (writing, directing, developing, composing, etc.) – Access to Science Fiction as a Scholar (special collections, research, teaching with distance learning) – Access to Science Fiction where Roles Collide (navigating access through different relationships to the genre) – Barriers to Access of Science Fiction for an Audience (knowledge, technology, sources, mentors, etc.) – Barriers to Access to Science Fiction as a Creator (biases, racism, sexism, traditional gatekeepers, etc.) – Accessibility, Disability, and Science Fiction (direct access, indirect access, etc.) – Technologies of Access and Accessibility that Relate to SF (applied to creation, consumption, community, criticism, etc.) – Access, Openness, and SF (Digital Humanities, Wikipedia, open source and free software, Fair Use and Copyright, open pedagogy, etc.) – Affinity Politics and Intersectionality Between and Among Groups Working Toward Improved Access to SF
The event is sponsored by the School of Arts and Sciences at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY.
The Annual City Tech Symposium on Science Fiction is held in celebration of the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, an archival holding of over 600-linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and scholarship. It is in the Archives and Special Collections of the Ursula C. Schwerin Library (Library Building, L543C, New York City College of Technology, 300 Jay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201). More information about the collection and how to access it is available here: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/sciencefictionatcitytech/librarycollection/.