Masculinities Conference, Session 3, Gendered Inversions

The third session of the Masculinities Conference on Gendered Inversions features two presentations on upended gendered expectations of heteronormativity. Nadyne Stritzke’s “The Manly Art of Pregnancy: Male Pregnancy as a Narartiv, Socio-Culture, and Subversive Phenomenon” was the only presentation so far to explicitly evoke feminist science fiction including Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time. However, she distinguishes between non-female pregnancy (e.g., alien intervention) and male pregnancy. Nadyne posed a final research question about whether there really is an m-preg genre. I believe that she already knew the answer to this as yes (in part at least). Another question might be to what extent this is a more widely accepted narrative device?  There is a fair amount of fanfic and a notable collection of science fiction stories, TV episodes (Star Trek Enterprise), and films (Junior) [more here]. Mirjam M. Frotscher explores the novels Stone Butch Blues, Sacred Country, Trumpet, and Middlesex in her presentation, “Gaining Visibility/Undoing Maleness: Non-Normative Masculinities since the 1990s.”

This session is sustaining the strongest among strong today’s q&a sessions. There’s something to be said for two paper sessions on complementary themes. Thoughts on psychoanalysis and narratology. Other examples–beginning of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms features Italian soldiers walking over the hill with their ammo belts appear pregnant. Is there a difference between telling about male pregnancy and showing male pregnancy? In books, moves close to the character without having to define the character in a singular term. Some books provide more descriptions of the character/body while others do not. Ian M. Banks’ has characters in his novels who can swap at will between male and female bodies–what titles? Two categorical considerations: Morphological anxiety over what goes where–Will Self’s book. Voice and passing, voice of self determination.

Masculinities Conference, Session 2, Scripting Manliness

We are now into the question and answer portion of the Masculinities Conference second session, Scripting Manliness. Erik Pietschmann presented on The Beach and American Psycho, Raili Marling presented on Blue Valentine, and Keisha Lindsay presented on black men’s crisis narratives. This was a very integrated session even though the papers were independently conceived. Besides the theoretical connections between the papers, each presenter seems to take a very careful and nuanced approach to their respective subjects.

Lots of energized commenting and questions . . . Professor Babacar M’Baye is raising issues of multiplicities of masculinities and how that relates to black men on both sides of the Atlantic . . . Professor Stefan Horlacher raises significant questions about the panelists’ definitions of violence and masculinity, because the definitions employed could radically change the framework of the respective papers.

Masculinities Conference at Kent State, Session 1, Handle with Care

The Masculinities Conference at Kent State is already off to a great start. We are in the Q&A of the first session after Seth Friedman and Kerry Luckett gave their respective presentations on The Usual Suspects/Unbreakable and Zombie/Silence of the Lambs.

In particular, Kerry’s presentation got me thinking about my monstrous cyborgs encyclopedia article that I am currently writing. Skins and surfaces are important elements to consider when it comes to defining the cyborg as a monstrous hybrid being, because there are subversive cyborgs that hide their hybridity (and can be revealed).

Even though this isn’t a science fiction conference, we just went into Luke Skywalker’s asexual behavior save the relationship/flirtation with his sister. I knew that this would be a good conference!

Where to Be in Kent This Weekend: MASCULINITIES BETWEEN THE NATIONAL AND THE TRANSNATIONAL, 1980 TO THE PRESENT AN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE

Professor Kevin Floyd is hosting an international conference this weekend at Kent State called, “MASCULINITIES BETWEEN THE NATIONAL AND THE TRANSNATIONAL, 1980 TO THE PRESENT.” Held from August 5-7, 2011, it is a continuation of the larger Humboldt Project that Floyd is developing with his counterpart at the Technische Universität Dresden, Professor Stefan Horlacher. Being a single track conference, I believe that it will be an intensive investigation of the issues raised by each of the presenters. You can download the conference program here. The conference is free and open to the public. See you there!

SFRA 2011 Paper Crystalizes into “A Cognitive Approach to Science Fiction”

My paper for SFRA 2011, which I have retitled “A Cognitive Approach to Science Fiction,” is nearly at a first draft stage. Its argument is central to my dissertation, which I have been working on for a short time now. However, I am finding new ways to craft my argument while cutting down how much I have to say for the purposes of a conference presentation. I believe that this exercise is becoming a useful one for my thinking and sharing my work abroad. I am hopeful that my presentation will generate questions and comments in Poland.

Current Research in Speculative Fiction, Liverpool, England, June 18, 2011

Earlier this year, I mentioned the call for papers for the Current Research in Speculative Fiction Postgraduate Conference at the University of Liverpool on June 18, 2011. They have settled on their program after having an enormous response from the speculative fiction community. They are no longer accepting papers, but you should consider attending if you will be in the neighborhood in June. If I could, I would certainly be there!

Details from the official CRSF Facebook Group:

Current Research in Speculative Fiction(CRSF) 2011:
“A Vampire, a Troll, and a Martian Walk Into a Bar…”
18th June 2011
Keynote Lectures from: Professor Adam Roberts (Royal Holloway, University of London), Mr Andy Sawyer (Science Fiction Foundation Collection Librarian; Director of MA in Science Fiction Studies, University of Liverpool)

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We apologise but we can no longer accept any further papers for this conferences.

However, we still welcome delegates from all scopes of speculative fiction.
The conference carries a fee of £25 until April 30th 2011, after which time it will rise to £30, this fee includes refreshments and lunch. To pay this fee please go to https://payments.liv.ac.uk/ and follow the links for Conferences and Events. Many thanks.

For further information, email the conference team at CRSF2011@gmail.com

CFP: Current Research in Speculative Fiction Conference, June 2011, University of Liverpool

Glyn Morgan forwarded me the following cfp for the Current Research in Speculative Fiction Conference at the University of Liverpool on June 18, 2011. Adam Roberts and Andy Sawyer are the prestigious keynote lecturers. There are exciting things going on at the University of Liverpool regarding the study of science fiction and fantasy, and you should be a part of them. Liverpool is home to the huge science fiction special collection, the MA in Science Fiction Studies, and now a conference. Go here to read the cfp on Glyn’s blog, or read it below:

CRSF 2011 – Call For Papers

“A Vampire, a Troll, and a Martian Walk Into a Bar….”
– Call for Papers –
18th June 2011
University of Liverpool
Keynote Lectures from: Professor Adam Roberts (Royal Holloway, University of London), Mr Andy Sawyer (Science Fiction Foundation Collection Librarian; Director of MA in Science Fiction Studies, University of Liverpool)
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CRSF is a postgraduate conference designed to promote the research of speculative fictions including, but not limited to, science fiction, fantasy and horror.
Our aim is to showcase some of the latest developments in this dynamic and evolving field, by providing a platform for the presentation of current research by postgraduates. The conference will also encourage the discussion of this research and the construction of crucial networks with fellow researchers. The University of Liverpool is a leading centre for the study of speculative fiction, being home to the Science Fiction Foundation Collection, and is thus ideally suited to such a cause.
This year we would like to focus on encouraging postgraduates to network with others in their field, and related areas, whilst also demonstrating the depth and breadth of research currently being conducted into speculative fiction. As such we welcome 300 word abstracts on topics as diverse as, but not limited to:
•Alternate History •Apocalypse •Environmental Philosophy •Gaming •Genre Evolution •Genre Language and the Language of Genre •Gender and Sexuality •Graphic Novels •Representations of Psychology and Consciousness •Speculative Fiction across Media – Adaptation, Translation and Franchise •Speculative Spaces, Places and Races •The Supernatural and the Other •Technology and Magic •”Why Has No One Thought of This Before?” •Young Adult Fiction.
Abstracts of 300 words, for papers intended to run for twenty minutes,  should be submitted to CRSF2011@gmail.com by 01/04/11.
For further information, email the conference team at CRSF2011@gmail.com
Note: although we are looking for papers from postgraduates we welcome delegates from across the spectrum of academic and speculative fiction fields. This conference is the first of a planned annual series and cannot succeed without you support so please pass this along to everyone who might be interested.

 

SLSA 2011 in Ontario, PHARMAKON, Call for Papers

Carol Colatrella sent out the following call for papers to the Lit-Sci email list for the 2011 Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts Conference in Kitchener, Ontario:

CALL FOR PAPERS–SLSA 2011

25th Annual Meeting of the Society for Literature Science and the Arts
PLACE: Kitchener, Ontario
VENUE: Delta Hotel Kitchener, THEMUSEUM, Critical Media Lab (all within three short city blocks)
DATES: September 22-25, 2011
SITE COORDINATOR: Marcel O’Gorman, University of Waterloo
PROGRAM CHAIRS: Melissa Littlefield and Robert Markley, U. of Illinois; Susan Squier, Penn State U.
DUE DATE FOR PANEL, POSTER, AND ARTISTIC CONTRIBUTIONS: April 1, 2011
NOTIFICATION FOR ACCEPTANCE OF SUBMISSIONS: June 15, 2011
SLSA MEMBERSHIP:  Participants in the 2011 conference must be 2011 members of the Society for Literature Science and the Arts. For more information about SLSA, please visit the organization website atwww.litsciarts.org.

PHARMAKON
The theme for 2011 is “PHARMAKON,” that which can both kill and cure. From Socrates’ hemlock to nuclear radiation, the pharmakon offers an opportunity to explore the concept of indeterminacy as it applies to a number of research topics, including the following:
•       bioarts
•       critical media theory
•       bioethics
•       medical humanities
•       new frontiers in digital media
•       animal studies
•       environmentalism and ecological studies
•       new directions in rhetoric and writing studies
•       the history and philosophy of science
•       gender and/in science studies
PLEASE NOTE: This is an open conference where a wide range of work will be welcome. Proposed topics can represent ANY work in literature and science, history of science, philosophy of science, science and art, or science studies.

Plenary speakers for 2011 are BERNARD STIEGLER (Institut de Recherche et d’Innovation, Author of Technics and Time, etc.) and ISABELLE STENGERS (Université de Bruxelles, author of Cosmopolitics, etc.).

For panel contributions, submit a 250-word abstract with title. Pre-organized panels for consideration can contain an additional summary paragraph along with proposed session title.  Submit proposals and register athttp://www.litsciarts.org/slsa11/.

NEW FOR 2011: Poster Presentations. Poster presentations are traditionally under the purview of scientific conferences. This year, SLSA would like to challenge the boundaries of the poster presentation as well as provide space for more scientists to get involved with the society. If you would like to present your research in the form of a poster, we will have dedicated space to do so. Presenters will have an opportunity to discuss their work informally, and they MUST attend the conference for their work to be shown.

THE “A” IN SLSA
This year’s conference will include, among other interventions, bicycle tours of contemporary public art. For 2011, we are teaming up with THEMUSEUM of Kitchener and the Contemporary Art Forum of Kitchener + Area (CAFKA). THEMUSEUM will be exhibiting a retrospective of computational art entitled Rethinking Art & Machine (RAM), and CAFKA will be holding its biennial festival of public art, which will provide a larger context for the conference. The theme for CAFKA 2011 is “survive.resist”. This collaboration is designed to place more emphasis on the “A” in SLSA. To this end, we welcome panel proposals from artists and scholars interested in public art and the theme of “survive.resist,” in addition to arts-oriented papers and panels on the theme of “PHARMAKON.”

We invite proposals from artists for an SLSA exhibition to be held in the Critical Media Lab. Proposals will be considered in the context of the conference theme of “PHARMAKON.” Please visit the Critical Media Lab web site to better understand the context for this exhibition (http://criticalmedia.uwaterloo.ca). Artistic proposals must include a 1-2-page description that clearly outlines the project and its relationship to  “Pharmakon,” as well as technical and space requirements. Artists must also provide up to 5 pages of images and/or a URL to a web site that clearly illustrates the proposed work and/or previous work that is relevant to the proposal. All submissions and questions should be addressed to Marcel O’Gorman (marcel@uwaterloo.ca). Participating artists will have full access to all conference activities, and will not have to pay registration fees or SLSA dues. They will also be eligible for SLSA Travel Awards (see below).

BOOK + ART PANELS: The SLSA Publications Committee is soliciting proposals from published authors, artists, and curators who wish to discuss their RECENT work in a longer format than a regular panel presentation. The panel will consist of the author/artist/curator and two respondents/commentators. Please send a brief proposal or nomination, and a list of possible respondents/commentators to Ron Broglio (Ronald.Broglio@asu.edu), who will share it with the rest of the Publications Committee (Elizabeth Wilson and Rob Mitchell).

The Cognitive Game Panel at SLSA 2008, Notes on Consciousness, Cognition, and Neuronarratives

As you may have read on my CV, I am writing my dissertation on the potentially important work being done in science fiction on minds and brains. Specifically, I will read the works of several authors through the lens of cognitive cultural studies with the goal to establish the significance of science fiction to literary studies as well as cognitive science.

I have been long interested in the human mind. I wrote a 20 page paper in my high school psychology class on consciousness after reading Roger Penrose’s book The Emperor’s New Mind. At the University of Liverpool, I took part in a study on human facial aesthetics only after receiving the researcher’s promise that I could have a copy of my MRI dicom data so that I could look at my brain in the comfort of my own home.

Until recently, I had forgotten about a panel that I attended at the 2008 Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts conference in Charlotte, NC. Titled “The Cognitive Game,” the panelists discussed different aspects of cognition in and through literature. I remembered this panel only after browsing an old notebook about a week ago when I ran across my notes. This bit of happenstance is itself a hallmark of my mind and the way my memory works. So much seems lost to the past, but I can capture glimpses of the past through my notes. However, I honestly have very little memory of the panel even after reading through my notes. In a sense, it seems like I wasn’t really there, but I do know that the notes are mine. You may have noticed that I take copious notes in class or at conferences. Part of this is an attempt to help me remember things in the short term while maintaining my focus on what is being discussed. It is also my effort at recalling things at a later time–if I have a chance to go back and review my notes. Unfortunately, I do not always have the time to really go back through all of my notes–at least not as thoroughly as I would like.

As an exercise to help retrieve weak connections in my mind’s holographic memory, I copy my notes from “The Cognitive Game” panel below.

Notes:

Saturday 10:30 panel

The Cognitive Game

Sarah Birge – “Paper Memories”

narrative identity theory

trauma disrupts narrative

loss of self without normal brain function

“disnarrativia”

Richard Powers and Umberto Eco novels

how to compensate for these disruptions

Andy Clark

self as tool kit — Dennet

The Echo Maker – Powers

Capgras Syndrome

recreation of self and creation of self by others

liminal state of Mark

enforcement of stable sense of self in the face of trauma

issues of dignity and self-determination

this would be good to add to BSG paper [note: this did not happen]

The Mysterious Flame _________ – Eco

persistence of self through time

cultural memory

Yambo’s “paper memory” vs. personal memory

“notebook of his mind”

dispersion of self into cultural memory

self and certainty-> allow space for others’ narratives

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Mark Clark – “Post-traumatic Experiential”

Nabokov – it is the re-reading that matters (?)

villanelle vs. narrative sense of self

Dylan Thomas – “Do not go Gently into That Good Night”

final words are a whisper

son is not finished project of the father

consider context of the words – respoken, altered meanings?

changing memory based on trauma

non-activation

therapeutic endeavor

absorption

audience – reader and participant in narrator’s trauma aftermath

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Pawel Frelik – “To Think or Not to Think”

begins with the novel that Sarah talked about

Richard Powers’ The Echo Maker

Antonio Damasio

Edelman and Tononi

Thomas Metzinger

D. M. Wagner

SF:

1) performance of subjectivity – PKD, terminal fictions, cyberpunk, surfaces

2) artificial intelligence – Maddox Halo, Galatea 2.2

3) cognitive processes problematized – Egan’s Oceanic, Moon – The Speed of Dark, Matt Ruff

intelligence vs. consciousness

alien narratives is one place this is engaged

morality or transcendence – imply consciousness

1) inescapably coupled – Dix and Williams, Echoes of Earth trilogy

2) possibly conflicting – Peter Watts – Blindsight

Echoes of Earth – ingrams of humanity

E.E. Smith – Lensman series

contrasts with Echoes of Earth

xenomorphism/exoticism

Blindsight – one of the most inventive novels of alien otherness in recent years

construct – “heaven”

third wave to make alien contact

“posthuman sociopaths”

Susan James – “gang of four” – multicore persona/ae

1) blindsight – brain lesions – see things without cognition

2) Chinese room – John Searle – 1980 – thought experiment

3) zombie – blindsighted zombies, consciousness is baggage that they have jettisoned, expand possibilities for the species

what about aesthetics

for humanity consciousness not landing on Earth

cruxifix glitch – vampires

downgrade humanity

reptilian ascendancy – also Power’s language

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Q&A

emotion and affect – importance to consciousness

subjectivity and the fragmented self

what about posthumanism and sentience

Earth: backwater, lucky for us, allowed us to survive

disability – ascendency for posthuman specialization

Suzan Jones – savage that we now don’t tolerate multipersonalities – in Blindsight, humanity accepts that – how to manage, utilize

scramblers – respond to stimuli, volition isn’t really addressed

Immigration and Science Fiction Panel at SFRA 2010, Review by Karen Hellekson

Over at the Official Blog of the Western Literature Association, Karen Hellekson wrote a wonderful review and commentary of the Immigration and Science Fiction Panel that Y and I participated in at the Science Fiction Research Association meeting in Carefree, Arizona this past Summer. You can read her response to the panel here.

I wrote about the panel on dynamicsubspace.net here, and you can read my full coverage of the conference on this link gathering post here.