Joint Annual Conference
August 15-19, 2023
TU Dresden

Science Fiction Research
Gesellschaft für

(english) (deutsch)

Call for Papers: Science fiction and the fantastic (SFF) have the power to disrupt entrenched narratives and worldmaking practices. Whether in the form of hard science fiction, utopian speculation, high fantasy or supernatural horror, SFF is fundamentally anchored in imaginations of disruption—a tear in the fabric of reality, an estrangement of the senses, a break with the known world, or a transgression of boundaries. The conference theme “Disruptive Imaginations” invites participants to engage with disruption as a variegated paradigm of the SFF imagination. As a mode of disturbance or interruption, a disruption implies that habitual patterns of perceiving, inhabiting, and ordering the world are unsettled, giving way to uncertainty and the unknown. It can occur at scales that range from the micrological to the cosmic. At the precarious threshold between chaos and order, a disruption carries the potential for transformative system change and can produce a shift in hegemonic articulations of ‘the im/possible.’

Fredric Jameson famously invokes disruption as the fundamental discursive strategy of political utopia, which only “by forcing us to think the break itself”[1] enables the imagination of worlds otherwise. What would it mean to think disruption “as restructuration and the unexpected blasting open of habits, as that lateral side-door which suddenly opens onto a new world of transformed human beings” (ibid.). Disruption has been championed as a strategy of intervention across the political spectrum and impels a careful examination of questions of agency and power (relations). Who or what has the power to disrupt and whose experiences of disruption are acknowledged while others remain repressed or invisible? In the face of a lingering pandemic, looming threats of nuclear warfare, global heating, environmental racism, and extractive capitalism, how can imagination offer a counterforce to the disruption of lifeworlds?

“Disruptive Imaginations” seeks to confront SFF narratives of innovation, progress, and other-worlding with the faultlines of their own construction. Envisioned in part as a critical response to neoliberal models of disruptive innovation, “Disruptive Imaginations” invites scholarship and creative work that interrogates methods of both local and larger systemic change that does not fetishize newness, and that anchors in the critical world-making capacities of literature and the arts. As a literary and artistic mode, SFF ceaselessly rehearses alternatives and dishabituations of the status quo while also creating spaces that expose and resist the disruptive forces of white supremacy, settler-colonialism, heteropatriarchy, and ableism. Beyond the promises of a technological fix or a naive return to equilibrium, how might SFF help foster an understanding of complex and messy worlds in crisis? What are the limits of disruption as a useful story to think worlds with, and what collateral damage does it entail? What kinds of different paradigms (speculative and otherwise) may be needed to disrupt disruption?

[1] Fredric Jameson. Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions. Verso, 2005. 232.