Organic Systems: CHASE workshops

CHASE – the Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts in South-East England – is an AHRC funding body which provides funding for events hosted at its member institutions, directed at the enhancement of skills and scholarship of postgraduate research students.

Birkbeck and Goldsmiths, both colleges of the University of London and members of CHASE, have collaborated to put together a series of workshops for PGR students, around the theme: Organic Systems: Science Fiction & Ecology Today.

The title draws on the work already done by the London Science Fiction Research Community, a PGR-led group based primarily at Birkbeck who have also played an important role in advising on this new series of CHASE workshops.

The four workshops are scheduled as follows (all dates are 2019):

Thursday 2 May: SF and Critical Ecologies (Goldsmiths)

Thursday 23 May: SF and Ecology on Screen (Birkbeck)

Thursday 4 July:  Ecologies of Gender (Birkbeck)

Thursday 12 September: Science Fiction/Fiction Science (Science Museum)

The programme is intended for doctoral students, and priority will be given to those studying at institutions that are members of the CHASE consortium. If space allows, then other scholars and members of the public will also be welcome. Please register here on the CHASE website.

Blog reports on each event will be posted here on the Centre for Contemporary Literature website.

There follows a more detailed description of the series, including the current list of speakers and timings.


This series of four CHASE training events will explore the relation between science fiction (SF) and ecology as the nexus of an emergent set of interdisciplinary research interests. Much recent research and theory has pointed to the complementary nature of these two prominent areas of contemporary thought, often highlighting the creative and critical power of the science-fictional imagination for addressing ecological questions and concerns that are necessarily difficult to think within established epistemological frameworks – by virtue of their novelty, futurity and scales. These same factors mean that, despite a growing body of relevant work emerging in particular in critical science fiction studies and what have been called environmental humanities and posthumanities, there remains a shortage of obvious methodological resources and training for research students working at or wanting to engage in this area of crossover.

Each event will comprise (1) a dedicated training session for PGR students, which will include practical components (e.g. on accessing archives, applying for fellowships, or discussion of the experience of research and issues arising from it), (2) a roundtable event with expert speakers on a particular theme, and (3) a semi-formal reception to promote the formation of collaborations and networks.

Dates (all 2019), themes and venues for the four sessions are as follows. Timings given are provisional at this stage, but in general each session will take place during an afternoon, except the final session which is scheduled to begin earlier.

Thursday 2nd May:           SF and Critical Ecologies (Goldsmiths)

2-3:30: PhD Training session (Laurie Grove Baths Council Room):

‘Fantastic Literature in the Archive’ with Ross MacFarlane (Research Development Specialist [Modern], Wellcome Library).

4-5:50: Panel (Deptford Town Hall 109):

‘Planetary Resources: The Value of SF for Critical Ecological Thinking’. Speakers including: Richard Crownshaw, Nicole Sansone (Goldsmiths), Matthew De Abaitua (Essex).

6: Reception.

Thursday 23rd May:          SF and Ecology on Screen (Birkbeck)

2-3: PhD Training session (BBK Cinema):

‘Fellowships in Fantastic Fiction’ with Dr James Machin (former Visiting Fellow at the University of Riverside, California and Harry Ransom Centre, Texas).

3:30-5: Panel (BBK Cinema):

‘SF and Ecology on Screen’. Speakers including Sean Cubitt (Goldsmiths), Katie Stone (Birkbeck), Francis Gene-Rowe (Royal Holloway).

As well as registering with CHASE, please reserve your free place for this afternoon's session here so that we can manage attendance in this venue.

5-6: Reception outside BBK Cinema.

6-9: Screening of Solaris (1972, dir. Andrei Tarkovsky) in Clore Lecture Theatre, Birkbeck, introduced by London Science Fiction Research Community. Please book a free ticket for this screening here.

Thursday 4th July:  Ecologies of Gender (Birkbeck)

2-3:30: PhD Training session (Keynes Library, Birkbeck):

‘Public Engagement: Communicating SF Research to the General Public’, with Caroline Edwards (Birkbeck).

4-5:30: Panel (Keynes Library, Birkbeck): ‘SF, Ecology and Gender’. Speakers including: Caroline Edwards (Birkbeck), Julie Doyle (University of Brighton), Sarah Kember (Goldsmiths).

6: Reception (106, 43 Gordon Square).

Thursday 12th September: Science Fiction/Fiction Science (Science Museum)

11-12: PhD Training Session: ‘An Introduction to the Science Museum Archive’ with Archivist plus Glyn Morgan (Project Curator, Science Museum).

12-1: Time to explore Science Museum

1-2: Lunch

2-3:30: Panel: ‘SF, Science and Environment’. Speakers including: Farah Mendlesohn (Anglia Ruskin), Amy Butt (Architect), Glyn Morgan (Science Museum).

3:45-5: Beyond Gender: Approaches to Science, from a feminist PGR collective.

5-6:30: Reception.


Author: CCL

Share This Post On