This graduate symposium invites exploration of imagined alternatives in genres under the umbrella of speculative fiction: fantasy, science fiction, horror, the weird, alternate history, the utopian and the dystopian, in literature, film, television, comics, and video games. Such fictions give us not only alternative worlds, but alternative views of our own pasts, presents, and possible futures. They reflect our hopes and fears; they offer alternative narratives of race, gender, sexuality, and nation; they suggest the magic and the horror embedded in our own realities.
In her 1973 essay “From Elfland to Poughkeepsie,” noted fantasy and science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin writes that fantasy is “a game played for very high stakes….It is a different approach to reality, an alternative technique for apprehending and coping with existence….[it is] superrealistic, a heightening of reality.” We invite proposals for papers and panels that interrogate the alternative possibilities imagined in the heightened realities of speculative fictions. We suggest the topics below, but are open to other interpretations suggested by the symposium theme and genre focus.