Sublime Cognition
Sep08

Sublime Cognition

Sublime Cognition: Science Fiction & Metaphysics Friday 14th – Saturday 15th September 2018 School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square The Centre for Contemporary Literature is glad to be supporting the London Science Fiction Research Community’s Sublime Cognition conference, taking place 14–15 September at 43 Gordon Square, London. The conference will explore science fiction’s lost history of engagement with the mythical, magical and mystical, via papers and discussion panels featuring nearly 40 speakers. There will be keynote addresses from Roger Luckhurst and Helen De Cruz, and a roundtable discussion featuring SF authors Jeff Noon, Justina Robson and Fiona Moore. The programme is now available for viewing here. Please go here to register. What follows is a fuller description of the conference theme and programme. * Many SF critics have understood science fiction to be specifically guided by a rational empiricist epistemology, and have thus disregarded the important presence of magical, religious, spiritual and metaphysical phenomena in science fiction. Deploying the broad catch-all of ‘metaphysics’, this conference will explore SF’s lost history of engagement with the mythical and mystical. Central areas of focus will include an assessment of what role (if any) metaphysical phenomena have played in science fiction, and to what degree SF can be distanced from the spiritual, supernatural and numinous concerns of other literatures of the fantastic. Assessing SF’s complex relationship with the metaphysical opens into many other productive areas of inquiry as well: How can science fictional texts help us understand broader cultural processes of knowledge formation and paradigm shift? To what degree does SF act as a protected space for ideas that have been proposed within empiricist frameworks, but disproved and/or rejected by established scientific networks? In what way have references to religious cultures and institutions been used to reinforce or undermine normative gender roles in SF texts? How do treatments of metaphysical phenomena in Western SF differ from those which originate in other areas of the globe? How important are the symbols, tropes and imagery of an array of global religious traditions to the quality of enchantment that is as vital to SF as any other fantastic genre? The conference will feature keynote addresses by Roger Luckhurst (Birkbeck) and Helen de Cruz (Oxford Brookes), as well as a roundtable with authors Justina Robson, Jeff Noon and Fiona Moore (Royal Holloway), moderated by Jim Clarke (Coventry) Conference Organisers: Rhodri Davies (PhD, Birkbeck), Aren Roukema (PhD, Birkbeck), Francis Gene-Rowe (PhD, Royal Holloway) Schedule: Friday 14th September 9.30 – 10.00 Registration 10.00 – 10.15 Conference Introduction 10.15 – 11.15 Keynote 1 (Roger Luckhurst) 11.15 – 11.30 Break 11.30 – 12.30 Parallel Panels 1 12.30 – 13.30 Lunch 13.30 – 14.30 Parallel Panels 2 14.30 – 15.30 Parallel Panels 3 15.30 –...

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Call for Papers: Sublime Cognition: Science Fiction and Metaphysics
Feb20

Call for Papers: Sublime Cognition: Science Fiction and Metaphysics

Conference: 15th September 2018 at Birkbeck School of Arts Deadline for Abstracts: 1st May 2018 Many SF critics have understood science fiction to be specifically guided by a rational empiricist epistemology, and have thus disregarded the important presence of magical, religious, spiritual and metaphysical phenomena in science fiction. Deploying the broad catch-all of ‘metaphysics’, this conference will explore SF’s lost history of engagement with the mythical and mystical. Central areas of focus will include an assessment of what role (if any) metaphysical phenomena have played in science fiction, and to what degree SF can be distanced from the spiritual, supernatural and numinous concerns of other literatures of the fantastic. Assessing SF’s complex relationship with the metaphysical opens into many other productive areas of inquiry as well: How can science fictional texts help us understand broader cultural processes of knowledge formation and paradigm shift? To what degree does SF act as a protected space for ideas that have been proposed within empiricist frameworks, but disproved and/or rejected by established scientific networks? In what way have references to religious cultures and institutions been used to reinforce or undermine normative gender roles in SF texts? How do treatments of metaphysical phenomena in Western SF differ from those which originate in other areas of the globe? How important are the symbols, tropes and imagery of an array of global religious traditions to the quality of enchantment that is as vital to SF as any other fantastic genre? Other possible areas of research/interpretation include: Philosophical explorations of metaphysics in SF Intersections, tensions and harmonies between SF and mythical, magical or mystical traditions The science fictional sublime (e.g. cosmic or divine horror, weird ontologies, Big Dumb Objects) SF and the supernatural Intersections between theoretical science and metaphysics in speculative fiction The use of metaphysical phenomena to challenge or uphold dominant secularist or materialist discourses in SF SF and ‘pseudoscience’ SF adaptations of images, concepts and practices from religious movements large (e.g. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc.) and small (e.g. Raëlism, Discordianism, etc.) Religious texts that reflect a science fictional narrative mode (e.g. in Theosophy and Scientology) New Religious Movements founded on science fiction texts (e.g. Jedism from Star Wars; The Church of All Worlds from Stranger in a Strange Land) SF as a forum for the exploration of religious experience Technological simulation/production of alternative realities in SF (e.g. VR/AR, cybergods, hallucinogenic visions) The liminal possibilities of the mind in science fiction—telepathy, clairvoyance, telekinetics, etc. Conversely, investigations of the Cartesian divide Cognitive narratology The boundaries of genre—metaphysical phenomena and definitional processes in science fiction scholarship Metaphysical phenomena and the production of utopian/dystopian modes in SF The conference will feature...

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