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Religion and Science Fiction Unit

Call for Proposals for November Meeting

Individual papers and panel sessions are invited on the following themes:


  • We seek proposals for 10-minute teaching demonstrations using speculative fiction for undergraduates illustrating themes/problems/theories/concepts in the study of religion. How can a story, novel, graphic novel, video game, or other popular media about robots, vampires, magical rings, the secular apocalypse, climate catastrophe, etc., teach students about supernatural entities, transcendence, charismatic leaders, NRMs, religious experience, ethics, scripture.
  • Mysticism and related forms of transcendent experiences in speculative fictions. We seek proposals that consider forms of absorption, integration, ecstasy, and techniques for inducing these states. We are especially interested in proposals on mysticism in speculative fictions inspired by non-Christian/"western" traditions and methods.  How might fictional mystical experiences enrich the scholarly study of these techniques and experiences in "real" human religion?
  • Papers related to the 2024 Annual Meeting on Violence, especially but not limited to how "violence is directly related to the hierarchical understanding of beings and valuation of their lives." In the context of speculative fiction, the displacement of human others by fictional others (robots, vampires, AI, aliens, etc.) can assist in revealing the dynamics of violence, thus allowing us to find new interpretations and meanings in the process of defamiliarization.
  • Proposals that challenge religious studies scholarship through SF theory and criticism (e.g., Fredric, Jameson, Darko Suvin, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Sherryl Vint, etc.).

Statement of Purpose

This Unit challenges the study of religion through the infinite possibilities for world-making, "god"-imagining, community-forming, and human/species-becoming posed by speculative fiction (SF). Science fiction, fantasy, horror, slipstream, weird fictions, futurisms, and related genre movements in literary and visual media address basic questions and predicaments traditionally posed and answered by "religion."  Through engagement with SF narratives the work of this Unit intends to provoke comparison, exchange with, and mutation in the study of religion.  


Steering Committee Members


Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members