This Unit connects the study of religion to the limitless possibilities for world-making, soul-saving, god-imagining, community-forming, and human-being posed by science fiction (and broadly, “speculative” fictions). Science Fiction (SF) is a literary and visual medium addressing the most basic existential and teleological questions human beings can pose. As the genre of infinite possible worlds and human and superhuman becoming, SF has a unique ability to ask, examine, and suggest answers to the most profound questions and to envision transcendence beyond traditional realist literature or religious interpretations of the world.
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Religion and Science Fiction Unit
Call for Proposals
Religion and Science Fiction invites proposals exploring the intersections of religion and speculative fictions that illuminate theoretical, methodological, and substantive issues in the study of religion. We are especially interested in proposals that invite audience conversation, make use of new media, and consider alternative "sciences" and worlds. We seek proposals on the following topics and invite proposals from a commensurate range of disciplinary and methodological approaches.
We seek proposals for a co-sponsored session with Religion and Disability that engages science-fictional imaginings of the dis/abled body in tandem with theories or tropes of religion and/or science fiction. We are receptive to a wide range of critical approaches that engage issues of disability in catastrophic situations like a post-apocalyptic world, alien invasion, or a pandemic.
We seek proposals for a co-sponsored panel with Religion and Popular Culture that is inspired by the recent release of Midnight Mass. We invite papers on that series, on other works of Catholic horror, and on the work of Midnight Mass creator Mike Flanagan.
The AAR Theme this year is Religion and Catastrophe. We have been invited to “consider the multiple ways in which the study of religion speaks to catastrophes of the past and the present” and we would add visions of the future. Indeed, science fiction writers are often credited with the ability to predict the future, although as Octavia Butler wrote, “writing novels about the future doesn’t give me any special ability to foretell the future. But it does encourage me to use our past and present behaviors as guides to the kind of world we seem to be creating.” We invite paper proposals that engage these pressing contemporary issues through the lens of speculative fiction. Related to this theme is prediction and prophetic writing, such as but not limited to the work of Margaret Atwood, Paolo Bacigalupi, Octavia Butler, Nnedi Okorafor, and Kim Stanley Robinson.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Rudy V. Busto, University of California, Santa Barbara1/1/2018 - 12/31/2023
Nathan Fredrickson, University of California, Santa Barbara1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Zhange Ni, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026