Call for Papers: 200 Years of Interdisciplinarity Beginning with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: The Third Annual City Tech Symposium on Science Fiction

frankenstein-frontispiece-1831

200 Years of Interdisciplinarity Beginning with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: The Third Annual City Tech Symposium on Science Fiction

Date and Time: Tuesday, November 27, 2018. 9:00am-5:00pm

Location: New York City College of Technology, 300 Jay St., Namm N119, Brooklyn, NY

“So much has been done, exclaimed the soul of Frankenstein—more, far more, will I achieve; treading in the steps already marked, I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation.”

–Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1831 edition)

“Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

–Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), Jurassic Park (1993)

Ian Malcolm’s admonition above is as much a rebuke to the lasting echo of Victor Frankenstein’s ambition to accomplish “more, far more” as it is to park owner John Hammond’s explaining, “Our scientists have done things no one could ever do before.” Films like Jurassic Park and the kind of literature that came to be known as Science Fiction (SF) owe a tremendous debt to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818). In addition to being an (if not the) inaugural work of SF, Mary Shelley builds her cautionary tale around interdisciplinary approaches to science, and she takes this innovation further by applying the humanities to question the nature of being in the world, the effects of science on society, and the ethical responsibilities of scientists. These are only some of Frankenstein’s groundbreaking insights, which as Brian Aldiss and David Wingrove observe in Trillion Year Spree (1986), “is marvellously good and inexhaustible in its interest” (20). The many dimensions of interdisciplinarity in Frankenstein and the SF that followed are the focus of the Third Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium.

In this special anniversary year of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, join us for a one-day symposium discussing interdisciplinarity and SF. Continuing conversations began in the earlier symposia, we seek to investigate SF’s power as an extrapolating art form with interdisciplinarity at its core, including interdisciplinarity within STEM fields and the interdisciplinary synergy of STEM and the humanities.

We invite presentations of 15-20 minutes on SF and interdisciplinarity. Papers on or connected to Frankenstein are particularly encouraged. Possible presentation topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and interdisciplinarity (focusing on research questions or teaching approaches)
  • Explorations of interdisciplinary ideas, approaches, and themes in SF (or what disciplinary boundaries does SF bridge)
  • SF as an interdisciplinary teaching tool (or what SF have you used or want to use in your classes to achieve interdisciplinary outcomes)
  • SF’s interdisciplinary imaginative functions (or Gedankenexperiment, considering ethical issues, unintended consequences, or unexpected breakthroughs)
  • Studying SF through an interdisciplinary lens (or combining otherwise discipline-bound approaches to uncover new meanings)
  • Bridging STEM and the humanities via SF (or SF as an interdisciplinary cultural work that embraces STEAM—Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics)
  • SF and identity (or how interdisciplinarity in SF reveals, supports, or explores issues of identity, culture, sex, gender, and race)
  • SF and place (or how SF’s settings are interdisciplinary, or where it is written fosters its interdisciplinarity)
  • Interdisciplinarity and archival work in SF collections (or making the City Tech Science Fiction Collection work for faculty, students, and researchers across disciplines)

Please send your abstract (no more than 250 words), brief bio, and contact information to Jason Ellis (jellis at citytech.cuny.edu) by Oct. 31, 2018.

The program will be announced by Nov. 12, 2018 on the Science Fiction at City Tech website here: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/sciencefictionatcitytech/.

Hosted by the School of Arts and Sciences at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY.

The Annual City Tech Symposium on Science Fiction is held in celebration of the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, an archival holding of over 600-linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and scholarship. It is located in the Archives and Special Collections of the Ursula C. Schwerin Library (Library Building, L543C, New York City College of Technology, 300 Jay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201). More information about the collection and how to access it is available here: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/sciencefictionatcitytech/librarycollection/.

Retrocomputing at City Tech Site Updated with Software Inventory

IMG_20180716_152750
Neuromancer for Commodore 64/128. Item in City Tech’s Retrocomputing Archive.

Recently, I posted about the new OpenLab site that I launched for “Retrocomputing at City Tech.” On the site, I included a photographic inventory of the computing hardware and peripherals that I have on-hand in my office in Namm 520. Now, I’ve added to the site with a second page that inventories a majority of the software that is in the vintage computing archive. The software archive includes games (like Neuromancer pictured above, Star Wars X-Wing and TIE Fighter, and Star Trek 25th Anniversary), productivity software (such as Microsoft Office 2004), encyclopedias (Comptons, Groliers, and Microsoft Encarta), and operating systems (Windows 95, Macintosh System 7.5, Mac OS X 10.0-10.3 and 10.5). Follow the link above to see all of the software on its original media followed by textual descriptions.

City Tech Science Fiction Collection Inventory

IMG_20180711_144220
L to R: Jason Ellis, Lavelle Porter, and Jessica Roman

Over the past three days, I worked with my City Tech colleagues–Laura Westengard, Lavelle Porter, and Lucas Kwong–and student–Jessica Roman–to inventory the City Tech Science Fiction Collection. Two years ago, I began the collection’s finding aid by cataloging the 4,000+ magazines. Last year, I inventoried the collection’s nearly 1,700 monographs and anthologies. This year, we are creating an inventory of the remaining parts of the collection: scholarly journals and novels. Read details of our progress on the Science Fiction at City Tech OpenLab site here.

Retrocomputing at City Tech

retrocomputing-at-city-tech

In addition to working on a book review today, I created a new OpenLab site for Retrocomputing at City Tech. In addition to recording how I use vintage computers in the classroom and in research, the new OpenLab site contains a catalog of my vintage computing archive. I populated this catalog with most of the hardware, but I plan to granulize it further and create a catalog of my software. This, of course, will take time. At least there is a place for me to record these things now within the auspices of the work that I do at City Tech. I updated my previous Retrocomputing Lab page on this site with a link to the updated site on OpenLab.

New Science Fiction Collection from Marleen S. Barr

I first met Marleen in 2006 at my first Science Fiction Research Association Conference in White Plains, New York. She and I were on the same panel. As you might imagine, I, having just graduated with a B.S. from Georgia Tech, was a bit nervous presenting in front of an audience of professional scholars. Marleen gave me words of advice and encouraged me. Since then, she and I have worked together on different projects, such as The Postnational Fantasy, which includes an essay by her, and her two consecutive presentations at the first and second City Tech Science Fiction Symposia. In addition to these personal anecdotes, Marleen is, of course, a scholar and writer whose work has been instrumental to the on-going development of science fiction studies and deservedly earned her recognition and awards, including the SFRA’s prestigious Pilgrim Award for Lifetime Achievement. Now, she has a new work of science fiction–a collection of parodic short stories–featuring the United States’ current president. Read below for details about this new collection and how to order it from the publisher B Cubed Press.

Award winning feminist science fiction scholar and writer Marleen S. Barr brings you The Feminist Science Fiction Justice League Quashes the Orange Outrage Pussy Grabber: Political Power Fantasy Fiction (forthcoming from B Cubed Press). This book, the world’s first single-authored satirical Trump-focused short story collection, is a guide to the Trump revenge fantasy galaxy. Barr turns to fiction to move beyond wishing for Trump’s impeachment. She subjects our President to close encounters with feminist extraterrestrials, alternative Hillary winning history, Godzilla-esque male metamorphosis, lock up in the Phantom Zone—and that’s on a good day. In the end, Barr transports Trump to a galaxy far far away from us. Those who recoil at pussy grabbing need to grab this laugh out loud funny groundbreaking feminist power fantasy. Liberals will rate it a ten. Will Trump call science fiction a fake book? Will he expect feminist extraterrestrials to characterize him as a very stable genius? Parody is powerful! Books can be ordered at https://bcubedpress.com/contact/.

New Job, New Students, and New Friends in New York City

Signing the letter.
Signing the offer letter!

I waited until I had signed the offer letter to announce the good news: I accepted a tenure-track position at the New York City College of Technology (City Tech) in Brooklyn!

I’m incredibly stoked to join the City Tech team. I’m looking forward to working with students, colleagues, and the surrounding community.

While I’m sad to be leaving Georgia Tech and the Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Program two years into my three year term, I could not pass up the chance to work with students and colleagues at City Tech. It is the kind of college where I believe that I can make great contributions to its learning environment, support its operation through service, collaborate with top notch colleagues, and contribute to my discipline through scholarship, and work with the New York City community that I will join.

Even though I am looking forward to the future, I have a number of things to conclude here in Atlanta before I leave: I am teaching Science Fiction at Georgia Tech through the end of July, I am giving a presentation on teaching Science Fiction at this weekend’s Atlanta Science Fiction Society meeting, I am completing the curriculum guide for Georgia Tech’s Project One (formerly, First Year Reading Program), and I am working with the Georgia Tech Library Archives to inaugurate their Retrocomputing Lab.

Y and I have a lot of practical matters to attend to as well: finding a new place to live, listing our house in Norcross for sale, moving to New York with our piano and two cats, and saying our goodbyes to family and friends.

I look forward to new students, friends, colleagues, possibilities, and opportunities in our new city!

Retrocomputing Lab Page Launch

DSC01810-bw-TITLE2

Over the weekend, I launched a new page under the “Research” menu on DynamicSubspace.net for my Retrocomputing Lab.

I use the Retrocomputing Lab’s hardware and software resources in my continuing research on human-computer interaction, human-computer experiences, and human-computer co-influence. So far, its primary focus is on the shift from the pre-Internet, early-1990s to the post-Internet, late-1990s and early-2000s.

During that time, technological and cultural production seems to accelerate. Imagine all of the stories yet to be recovered from that time. How do we untangling of the long shadow of that time from the innovations and disruptions of the present passing into future?

The computer hardware includes Macs and PCs. There are laptops and desktops. There are different add-on cards and peripherals to enhance and change experiences. There are 3.5″ floppy disks, CD-ROMs, and DVDs. There are many different kinds of software ranging from games to interactive encyclopedias to operating systems to word processors. There are different motherboards that can be swapped out in various computer cases (AT and ATX). The machines can be temperamental, but each configuration reveals its own indelible soul (for lack of a better word, but it is a word that I quite like in this context).

My research focuses on reading on screens, depictions of electronic-facilitated reading, and the cognitive effects of reading on screens (of course, there are a multitude of screens and interfaces–a worthy complication) as opposed to other forms of non-digital media (and their multitude).

The Retrocomputing Lab continues to grow and new research possibilities abound. If you are interested in collaborating on a project with Retrocomputing Lab resources, drop me a line at jason dot ellis at lmc dot gatech dot edu.