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SciFi Lecture Series

Robots, Race and Aliens Explored in Lecture Series

Internationally known scholars of science fiction will speak at UC Riverside in April and May.

(January 29, 2009)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Robots and race, aliens and science fiction music are among the themes internationally known scholars of science fiction literature will explore in a lecture series at the University of California, Riverside in April and May.

The lecture series will include an afternoon symposium, “The Histories of Science Fiction,” on Thursday, April 30, which will lead into the 2009 Eaton Science Fiction Conference May 1-3. The lectures are free and open to the public. Parking costs $6.

“This speaker series will further cement UCR’s growing reputation as the most important academic site for science fiction scholarship in the world,” said Rob Latham, associate professor of English and organizer of the lecture series.

The speakers also will meet with graduate students enrolled in a course Latham teaches, “The Origins and Promise of Science Fiction,” which is part of the Ph.D. track in Science Fiction, Science and Literature in the Department of Comparative Literature. The Department of Creative Writing is conducting a search to fill a position in science fiction writing, and there are plans to hire an additional science fiction scholar next year in another department.

“This will give UCR three active faculty members who specialize in science fiction, providing the nucleus for future campus events and, I hope, for the establishment of an academic unit in Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies,” Latham said.

The speaker series will include:

Wednesday, April 8, 3 p.m. – Carl Freedman, “Marxism, Cinema, and Some Dialectics of Science Fiction and Film Noir.” Humanities and Social Sciences Building, Room 2212. Freedman, a professor of English and director of English Graduate Studies at Louisiana State University, is the author or editor of half a dozen books and the author of many dozens of essays and articles. He is best known for “Critical Theory and Science Fiction” (Wesleyan, 2000) and “The Incomplete Projects: Marxism, Modernity, and the Politics of Culture” (Wesleyan, 2002). He won the Science Fiction Research Association’s Pioneer Award in 1999 for an essay on Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” His current work focuses mainly on Hollywood cinema and on US electoral politics.

Thursday, April 30, 2 – 4:30 p.m. – Science Fiction Studies Symposium: The Histories of Science Fiction. Special Collections, Rivera Library, 4th floor. Speakers include:

Roger Luckhurst, professor of modern literature at Birkbeck College, University of London – “Science Fiction and Cultural History: Lines, Pyramids, Networks, Rhizomes.” Luckhurst has published four books: “The Angle Between Two Walls: The Fiction of J.G. Ballard” (St. Martin’s, 1997), “The Invention of Telepathy” (Oxford, 2002), “Science Fiction” (Polity, 2005), and “The Trauma Question” (Routledge, 2008). He is working on a cultural history of Victorian and Edwardian mummy curses and editing a new Oxford World’s Classics edition of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” He won the 1995 Science Fiction Research Association’s Pioneer Award for his article “The Many Deaths of Sience Fiction: A Polemic.”

De Witt Douglas Kilgore, associate professor of English and American Studies at Indiana Univeristy – “Aliens, Robots and Other Racial Matters in the History of Science Fiction.” Kilgore is the author of “Astrofuturism: Science, Race and Visions of Utopia in Space” (Pennsylvania, 2003). His current research includes work on popular narratives emerging from the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). He is a consulting editor for Science Fiction Studies and Extrapolation. Recent publications include articles in Queer Universes: Sexualities in Science Fiction (Liverpool, 2008) and Societal Impact of Spaceflight (NASA, 2007). His essay “Changing Regimes: Vonda N. McIntyre’s Parodic Astrofuturism” won the Science Fiction Research Association’s Pioneer Award in 2001.

Veronica Hollinger, professor of cultural studies at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario – “A History of the Future.” Hollinger has published many articles on science fiction, with particular attention to feminist science fiction, postmodernism, queer theory and technoculture studies. She has been a co-editor of Science Fiction Studies since 1990 and has co-edited three scholarly collections: Blood Read: The Vampire as Metaphor in Contemporary Culture (Pennsylvania, 2002), Edging into the Future: Science Fiction and Contemporary Cultural Transformation (Pennsylvania, 2002), and Queer Universes: Sexualities in Science Fiction (Liverpool, 2008). She is a past vice president of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts and a winner of the 1990 Pioneer Award from the Science Fiction Research Association for her essay “The Vampire and the Alien: Variations on the Outsider.”

Wednesday, May 6, 3 p.m. – N. Katherine Hayles, “Vernor Vinge’s Rainbow's End and the Macropolitics of Global Spatialization.” Humanities and Social Sciences Building, Room 2212. Hayles, a professor of literature and English at Duke University, teaches and writes on the relations of science, technology and literature in the 20th and 21st centuries. Her book, “How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics” (Chicago, 1999), won the Eaton Prize. Her other books include “The Cosmic Web: Scientific Field Models and Literary Strategies in the Twentieth Century” (Cornell, 1984), “Chaos Bound: Orderly Disorder in Contemporary Literature and Science” (Cornell, 1990), “Writing Machines” (MIT, 2002), and “My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts” (Chicago, 2005) She is a recipient of the lifetime achievement award for scholarship from the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. Currently she is at work on a book titled “How We Think: The Transforming Power of Digital Technologies.”

Wednesday, May 27, 3 p.m. – Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr. “Help Me! A Short History of Science Fiction in Music.” Humanities and Social Sciences Building, Room 2212. Csicsery-Ronay, a professor of English and world literature at DePauw University, is managing editor of Humanimalia: A Journal of Human/Animal Interface Studies and co-editor of Science Fiction Studies. He is the author of “The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction” (Wesleyan, 2008) and co-editor of “Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams: Japanese Science Fiction from Origins to Anime” (Minnesota, 2007). He received the 1992 Science Fiction Association’s Pioneer Award for his essay “The SF of Theroy: Baudrillard and Haraway.”

For more information contact Rob Latham at or (951) 827-1966.


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