My name is Jason Woodrow Ellis, and I have been going to school for a very long time. However, despite the passage of time, I find myself again in the place where it all started. I began my studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1995 as a physics major. It took a number of years, but through a series of unexpected happy events, namely working with Lisa Yaszek, being an inaugural member of the Science/Fiction Laboratory, and having a life-changing conversation in 2004 with the science fiction author Kathleen Ann Goonan, I transformed from science nerd to lit geek.
It was during my final years at Georgia Tech that I began to think more critically about science fiction and its importance to my understanding of and thinking about the world. Thanks to a copy of the SFRA Review, the official publication of the Science Fiction Research Association, from Eugene Thacker, I joined the organization. Soon thereafter, I attended my first SFRA conference in the Summer of 2006 at White Plains, New York where I got to meet Norman Spinrad and Nalo Hopkinson, and I presented a condensed version of my undergraduate senior thesis on Asmovian robots, Cameron’s Terminator, and Cold War technologies.
After earning my B.S. in Science, Technology, and Culture from Georgia Tech, I began graduate school at the University of Liverpool in England. While in its intensive one year masters program, I earned my M.A. in Science Fiction Studies with guidance from Andy Sawyer and David Seed. My M.A. thesis was on Cold War American identities represented in the original and reinvented Battlestar Galactica television series. It was during my time at Liverpool that I began to write science fiction reviews for the SFRA Review. I won the 2007 Mary Kay Bray Award for best work in the Review for not one, but two of my reviews: a post-9/11 reading of Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and a review of Ian McDonald’s Brasyl.
After leaving Liverpool, I started work on an English Literature Ph.D. from Kent State University where I am continuing to study today. Shortly after returning to the States, I became the first Publicity Director of the SFRA in 2008. I continued writing reviews for SFRA Review, and I expanded into other publications with The German Quarterly and Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction. I have forthcoming works: an entry in Critical Companion to Science Fiction Film Adaptations on Chris Columbus’ movie Bicentennial Man and an essay on the early development of the modern tank in The Wellsian: The Journal of the H.G. Wells Society.Now, I co-edited a book on science fiction and postcolonial studies titled The Postnational Fantasy: Postcolonialism, Cosmopolitics, and Science Fiction with two of my colleagues: Masood A. Raja and Swaralipi Nandi.
Since then, I completed my Ph.D. coursework; took three comprehensive exams in Twentieth-Century American Literature (with Kevin Floyd), Postmodern Theory (with Tammy Clewell), and the works of Philip K. Dick (with Donald “Mack” Hassler); and defended my dissertation, “Brains, Minds, and Computers in Literary and Science Fiction Neuronarratives,” in May 2012. I graduated with a Ph.D. in English from Kent State University in August 2012.
My higher educational career has come full circle: I am now a Marion L. Brittain Fellow in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology. In addition to my professional contributions to the Technology and Media Committee, weekly Digital Pedagogy and Technical Communication seminars, and RFI/grant writing, I teach two sections of ENGL 1101 (English Composition I) or ENGL 1102 (English Composition II) and one section of LCC 3403 (Technical Communication) per semester. LMC’s Writing Program under the direction of Rebecca E. Burnett provides tremendous support for Brittain Fellows to push the pedagogical envelop in WOVEN (written, oral, visual, electronic, and nonverbal) multimodal composition and critical thinking and engagement. Most recently, I extended WOVEN emphases into my summer teaching assignment: LMC 3214, Science Fiction. In this class, I incorporated a Lego-based haptic perception assignment that encouraged students to think about SF icons as physical and realizable.
Besides taking pleasure from science fiction in its many forms, I enjoy photography, building with Lego bricks, tinkering with computers, constructing antennas and other technologies, and writing. My wife and I live in Norcross, Georgia with our two cats–Miao Miao and Moses.