Imagining Alternatives

A Graduate Symposium on Speculative Fictions

About the Keynote

Professor Alexis Lothian will be giving a keynote address titled Living in the Future: Speculative Fiction and Queer Time

Queer times break with the straight and narrow paths of reproductive futurism: lingering or refusing, flashing up in moments of ephemeral utopia or doubling back to reanimate the pleasurable and/or painful past. But where does the speculative narrative act of imagining the future –– frequently embodied in the genre of science fiction –– fit within this frame? This talk will draw from a larger project on speculative fiction and queer time that explores how science fictions by feminists, queers, and people of color engage in temporal critique by working through rather than against the normative temporalities that queer scholars including Lee Edelman, José Muñoz, and Elizabeth Freeman have identified. The practice and performance of affective world making has been central to queer temporal studies; I link it with the idea of world building, or concretely planning a fictional world, that is important in science fiction theory and criticism in both academic and fan cultures. Science fiction’s world building creates utopian visions, dystopian fears, and futuristic projections that can seem to uncritically reproduce normative life narratives and chronologies of technological progression. Drawing on fiction and theory by Samuel R. Delany as well as on science fiction fan cultures’ practices of  digital remix as knowledge production, my talk will explore new temporal frames that emerge from the uses to which science fiction’s futures have been put. What practices make it possible to live inside such futures as they refract into the present?

The keynote will take place on Friday, October 18th at 5:30 pm on the third floor of the Levis Center.  Catered reception to follow on the second floor.  It is open to the public so please join us for a great event!

Alexis Lothian (queergeektheory.org) researches and teaches at the intersections of cultural studies, digital media, speculative fiction, and queer theory. Her book manuscript, Deviant Futures: Speculative Fiction and Queer Time, explores alternative futures dreamed up by feminists, queers, and people of color in 20th- and 21st-century Britain and America––from feminist utopians to video remixers––in order to inquire into historical and political narratives that the seemingly transparent terminology of “the future” has obscured. She also works on new artistic forms that are emerging from fan communities, particularly digital remix video (vidding), especially as these forms engage critical readings of media texts and are used to participate in social justice activism. She is the editor of an upcoming special issue of Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology on feminist science fiction, coeditor of a Social Text Periscope dossier on Speculative Life, and a founding member of the editorial team for the journal Transformative Works and Cultures.

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