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
The AAR Theme this year is the work of our hands/La Labor de Nuestras Manos. We are invited to consider generally "the work that we do in the study of religion and think more broadly about what it is that we do when we do the work of our hands.' In light of this we invite paper proposals that envision the work of 'religion' in speculative worlds or the work of speculative worlds as religion. The theme of hands, handiwork, labor and/or embodiment are encouraged. This may include reflection on ways our “hands” are imagined in novel ways in SF, such as their delegation and dispersion in robots, AI, space colonies, and so on. SF scenarios offer new visions of hands for new works of creation, of combat, of healing, of discovery. Related to this theme is prediction and prophetic writing for alternative futures and future labor, imagined by authors such as (but not limited to) the work of Paolo Bacigalupi, Octavia Butler, Emily St. John Mandel, Nnedi Okorafor, and Kim Stanley Robinson.
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.
Statement of Purpose
Emanuelle Burton, University of Illinois, Chicago1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Rudy V. Busto, University of California, Santa Barbara1/1/2023 - 12/31/2028
Steering Committee Members
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