Three Weeks Until SFRA 2011 in Poland

In three weeks, I am looking forward to seeing Pawel Frelik and my other SFRA friends in Poland for the annual Science Fiction Research Association conference. I am in the process of writing my paper now, which is an adaptation of a chapter of my dissertation on cognitive science, cognitive cultural studies, and science fiction. Good luck to the other attendees on your writing for the conference. See you soon!

Kathleen Ann Goonan Speaks at Georgia Tech on “Consciousness, Literature, and Science Fiction”, Oct 12, 2010

Lisa Yaszek sent the following announcement out about the upcoming talk by award winning science fiction author Kathleen Ann Goonan at Georgia Tech on “Consciousness, Literature, and Science Fiction.” The presentation will take place on October 12 at 11:00am in the Library East Commons. I wish that I could go, because I think this Ms. Goonan’s presentation would be useful for my dissertation. She’s also a kind person with amazing ideas. Unfortunately, I am far away in the environs of Northeast Ohio, and I have job applications to prepare and a dissertation to write. I highly recommend you go to the event if you live in or around Atlanta!

The School of Literature, Communication, and Culture presents

critically-acclaimed science fiction author

Kathleen Ann Goonan

“Consciousness, Literature, and Science Fiction”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010, 11:00 a.m.

Library East Commons

Meet Kathleen Ann Goonan at a reception and book signing to follow the reading.

The author’s works include:


British Science Fiction Award Finalist


Hall of Fame Darryl Award Winner


Arthur C. Clarke Award Finalist


Nebula Award Finalist


Nebula Award Finalist


Campbell Award Winner

ALA Winner, Best SF Novel


Forthcoming from Tor Books, 2011

Kathleen Ann Goonan, presently a Visiting Professor at the School of Literature, Communication, and Culture at Georgia Tech, is an award-winning science fiction writer.  The author of seven novels as well as myriad short stories, talks, essays, and commercial articles, she is interested in and writes about emergent trends in science and technology and their influence on culture.  Her web page is

Kathleen Ann Goonan’s lecture is part of the 2010-2011 LCC Distinguished Speaker Series. Visit for more information about Goonan and other Speaker Series events.

NASA Speaker Professor Jay Reynolds Visited My Writing Classes Today

Thanks to NASA’s Speakers Bureau, Professor Jay Reynolds of Cleveland State University and the Glenn Research Station agreed to visit my two intro writing classes today to talk about America’s return to the Moon, current research on Mars, and investigations of asteroids and protoplanets, which is what Prof. Reynolds is at the present involved in with the DAWN mission to observe Vesta and Ceres.

I asked Prof. Reynolds to speak to my classes about some of the things taking place right now at NASA, particularly in relation to NE Ohio, where the majority of my students are from, and to give some context to the work that NASA does. He did an excellent job of this in his two presentations today for my students. Based on the subjects that he covered, I believe that he filled in many gaps that I either didn’t have the time to cover or those things that didn’t occur to me at the time as my classes worked their way through Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars as part of the “Space Exploration and Your Future” theme of my intro writing classes.

Prof. Reynolds demonstrated his depth of knowledge about NASA and its missions while also engaging broader economic and political interests in response to questions put to him by my students. He displayed a contagious abundance of energy and excitement about his work and the work taking place at NASA that I believe carried over to some of my students in the two classes.

At the beginning of his presentation, he began simply by asking my students what they thought of the unauthorized, yet mission making, Apollo 8 picture of the gibbous Earth next to the lunar surface [find it here] and the Apollo 17 image of the fully illuminated Earth [find it here]. What he stressed with these images was that our missions to the Moon turned into missions about the Earth. Our going out there gave us, meaning humanity, a new perspective on our planet and ourselves as co-inhabitants of what Carl Sagan termed a pale blue dot.

He discussed the Space Shuttle, Saturn V, and Ares I and V launch vehicles [see my Lego versions here] in detail, which elicited many questions between the two classes. Other questions included: How safe are the launch vehicles? Why did we go to the Moon? Does anyone own the Moon? What do you do with Helium-3?

Prof. Reynolds’ presentation ended with a discussion of asteroids and the importance of locating and tracking those objects which cross or may eventually cross the orbit of the Earth. This is related to the work that he does for NASA with the help of undergraduate and graduate students from Cleveland State University in conjunction with the DAWN mission [some related info here].

I am thankful that NASA can make a special event like this possible, and I am especially grateful to Prof. Reynolds for taking the time and energy to drive down to Kent and spend the afternoon with my students. It was a terrific occasion to close out the Fall 2009 semester for my students.

AGES Spring 2009 Graduate Research Symposium at Kent State

I’m presenting a shortened version of my ICFA 2009 essay, “Time Enough for Twitter:  Postmodern Science Fiction and Online Personas,” at tomorrow’s Graduate Research Symposium at Kent State.  It will take place from noon to 1:30pm on Thursday in Satterfield Hall, Room 209.  I hope that you can make it out!  

Here are more details from Patrick Thomas:

The Association of Graduate English Students (AGES) cordially invites all English faculty and students to the Spring 2009 Graduate Research Symposium on Thursday, April 23rd from 12:00pm–1:30pm in 209 Satterfield Hall.  This year’s Symposium features presentations from five graduate students in the Literature, Rhetoric and Composition, and MFA programs.  Enjoy an afternoon of lively discussion and learn about the interesting work our graduate students are doing!  Light refreshments will be served.  For more information, contact Jillian Hill, AGES President, at

AGES’ Second Annual Graduate Student Research Symposium

Christa Teston sent out a reminder about the Association of English Graduate Students’ second annual Graduate Student Research Symposium at Kent State University.  You should join us, because I’ll be there representing the English Literature folks with my “Time Enough for Twitter:   Postmodern Science Fiction and  Online Personas” essay from ICFA.  Last year, I presented my Transformers/Post-9/11 essay, which I presented at ICFA in 2008.  I detect a pattern forming.  Here are the details for the symposium:

Hi Everyone,

Please see the attached flyer and program for AGES’ second annual Graduate Research Symposium (sponsored in part by Graduate Student Senate). AGES is really excited to have five participants this year from three different programs! Come and show your support for your students/colleagues, enjoy a bite or two to eat, and engage in what promises to be a really interesting afternoon of scholarly collaboration! Please distribute this informationwidely!

Date: Thursday, April 23
Time: 12-1:30pm
Place: 209 Satterfield Hall



ICFA 2009, Early Thursday Morning Panel Success!

I woke up bright and early today for my 8:30am panel at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts on “Narrative Aesthetics and Fractured Selves” chaired by Robert von der Osten.  My fellow panelists were Albert Wendland of Seton Hill University who read his paper titled, “Description in Andre Norton, or a Touch of the Sublime,” and Darja Malcolm-Clarke of Indiana University who read her essay titled, “The Postmodern Freak and L’Ecriture Feminine in Shelley Jackson’s Half Life.”  Albert has an impeccable radio drama-like delivery that is a rare gift among academic presenters.  His paper on the relationship between the self and the Romanticized sublime in the SF of Andre Norton convinced me that I have to read more of her work.  Darja’s engagement of Hélène Cixous’s theory of writing female bodies and subjectivity in connection with the postmodern females in Jackson’s novel was simultaneously enlightening and fascinating. 

My paper, originally titled “Time Enough for Twitter:  Postmodern Science Fiction and Online Personas,” but changed to “Literary Characters, Online Persona, and Science Fiction Scholars:  A Polemic,” was the last essay to be read during our panel, and it generated the most discussion among the daring early morning audience at our panel.  My essay critiqued the behavior of SF list participants, myself included, as either unwilling or incapable of engaging the alien Othered instigator of a flame war on the list by a sock puppet operator (read more about what inspired my research on this subject here).  Luckily, the frank comments and questions by Dewitt, David, and Anna were the right chord for my presentation.  I was called out on my leaving out the content of the email sock puppet instigator, but my purpose was to call attention to the end effects of parody rather than the substantive content of that parody–I was most interested in the instigator’s desire to shake things up and try something new.  The idea of reflectively reconsidering our real-life manners and norms that have been shoehorned into Internet and New Media communicative technologies is an important project for everyone, including SF scholars who regularly use email discussion lists as a means for discussion.  I found the questions and comments on my paper particularly useful for the next iteration of my paper, which I do want to send out for publication.  I believe that it is a compelling subject for more than its theoretical or literary connections–it has so much to offer our conceptions of how we work together as academic professionals, and it is bound to generate more conversation, which is the point of our discursively-oriented work within a community of scholars.