[Msa-discuss] CFP: Science Fiction Television and the Politics of Space

Alexander Christie achristie at brocku.ca
Tue Mar 26 09:51:10 EDT 2019

Re-circulating our CFP in advance of the April 9 deadline. We look forward to reading your submissions!

Science Fiction Television and the Politics of Space: Edited Collection
deadline for submissions:
April 9, 2019
full name / name of organization:
Joel Hawkes, Alex Christie, Thomas Nienhuis
contact email:
scifispaces at gmail.com<mailto:scifispaces at gmail.com>

Edited Collection Call for Papers:

 Science Fiction Television and the Politics of Space

In the last twenty years, we have witnessed a surge in the creation of science fiction television shows, the securing of larger budgets for their production, and their movement from the margins of cultural consumption into the mainstream, with shows like Battlestar Galactica and Westworld.  Their popularity seems to reflect what is referred to as “peak TV” – a contemporary Golden Age of television production, and the ease of access to this programming through digital technologies – but also to the enduring and, indeed, growing fascination with the imaginative, challenging, and sometimes prophetic qualities of the genre, which frequently addresses contemporary political and cultural issues.

In this same period, the so-called “spatial turn” across academic disciplines has greatly influenced popular culture.  A focus on “place” and “space” in academia, led by the influential work of Henri Lefebvre, Michel de Certeau, and Michel Foucault, now finds a contemporary society increasingly conscious of the spaces it creates and inhabits – with population growth, technological development, and the increasing threat of ecocide just some of the processes impacting our use, understanding, and construction of spaces physical, social, and imagined.  We have become a space-conscious age.  At the same time, new technologies and social media have made the world a “smaller,” busier, and more connected place.  Under such conditions, societies’ various “spaces” have become increasingly politicised. Indeed, Lefebvre argues that they always have been, that the construction, ownership, and regulation of space (physical, cultural, and social) is about wealth, power, and control.

While science fiction genre television has often been ostensibly concerned with outer space (e.g. Star Trek: Next Generation), it has also reflected upon the inner space of the mind (e.g. Dollhouse), and regularly reflects our own cultural “spaces” – it has, for example, been greatly effective at considering the politics of our own time (e.g. Black Mirror).  It is, therefore, our aim with this edited collection to examine the numerous ways that space is used, explained, represented, and manipulated in science fiction television; in other words, we call for papers that explore the politics of space in science fiction television.

Deadline for proposals: 9 April, 2019.  (Final papers will be of around 5000 words.) At this time, Bloomsbury has expressed an interest in this project.

Our understanding of the terms “space” and “politics” is broad, to allow a greater scope for critical response.  Papers will primarily examine shows and their “spaces” through languages and/or theories of space and place.  Discussion (and types) of space might include, but is not limited to,

- Outer space.

- Inner space of the mind.

- Cultural, artistic, and political “spaces” that a show reflects upon, creates, or is

   positioned within.

- Movement, travel, and practise of, and in, space.

- The cult or mainstream space the show inhabits.

- Spaces that contain or exclude.

- The effects of technology on space.

- The space (or medium of the show), e.g. short or long series, webisodes, Netflix

   Original, streamed programming.

- Adaptation of book into television show.

- Reboots or spinoffs of shows.

- “Spaces” of fans and fandom.

By politics we mean broadly the idea of control, manipulation, domination, and/or structuring of space in its many forms.  Politics may, though, refer to specific politics, e.g. those of class, free market, race, communistic, or to other strategies and positions of power and control.

Discussion of science fiction television should focus on shows aired between 1987 and the present.  Shows discussed might include, but are not limited to,

Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-94), Deep Space Nine (1993-99), Voyager(1995-2001), Enterprise (2001-05), Discovery (2017-)

Red Dwarf (1988-)

Alien Nation (1989-90)

Quantum Leap (1989-93)

SeaQuest DSV (1993-96)

The X-Files (1993-2002, 2017)

Babylon 5 (1994-98)

VR.5 (1995)

Space: Above and Beyond (1995-96)

Sliders (1995-2000)

Dark Skies (1996-97)

Star Gate: SG1 (1997-2007), Atlantis (2005-09), SGU (2009-11)

Cowboy Bebop (1998-9)

Farscape (1999-2003)

Futurama (1999-2013)

Andromeda (2000-05)

Taken (2002)

Firefly (2002-03)

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002-5)

Lost (2004-10)

Battlestar Galactica (2004-09), Caprica (2010)

Heroes (2006-10), Heroes Reborn (2015-16)

Doctor Who (2005-), Torchwood (2006-11)

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-2014)

Fringe (2008-13)

Dollhouse (2009-10)

V (2009-11)

Warehouse 13 (2009-14)

Terra Nova (2011)

Black Mirror (2011-)

Falling Skies (2011-15)

Continuum (2012-15)

Defiance (2013-15)

Under the Dome (2013-15)

Orphan Black (2013-17)

Dark Matter (2015-17)

Sense8 (2015-18)

The Colony (2016-18)

The Expanse (2016-)

Westworld (2016-)

Altered Carbon (2018-)

We take 1987 as the start date of this study because this is the year Star Trek: The Next Generation began airing, arguably initiating a shift in science fiction storytelling and production that begins the modern period of science fiction television.

We also offer the following political considerations when thinking about your paper, highlighting three seismic shifts in world politics since 1989.  Three political periods:

Post Cold War (Nov 1989, Fall of the Berlin Wall)

Post 9/11 (Sep 2001, New York terrorist attack).

Post Financial Crisis (2008, Banking collapse/financial crisis)

Key events in space exploration and technological advancement may also be useful to consider, such as:

1986, 28 Jan: Challenger shuttle explodes shortly after launch, killing its crew.

1988, 21 Dec: Vladimir Titov and Musa Manarov return to Earth from Soviet space station, Mir, after man's longest space flight - 365 days, 22 hours, 39 minutes.

1990, 24 Aug: Hubble Space Telescope deployed.

1991: Launch of the World Wide Web.

1996, 4 Jul: The Mars Pathfinder arrives on Mars and later begins transmitting images.

2000, 2 Nov: An American and Russian crew begins living aboard the international space station.

2003, Apr: Mapping of human genome completed.

2004, 4 Feb: Launch of Facebook.

2007: Netflix begins streaming.

We are looking for papers from across the disciplines, with the aim of putting together a truly interdisciplinary collection.

Please submit:

  *   a submission title
  *   a 400-word proposal
  *   a 250-word biography; and please list any relevant publications.

Please send proposals to the editors, Joel Hawkes (University of Victoria), Alex Christie (Brock University), and Thomas Nienhuis (Camosun College), at scifispaces at gmail.com<mailto:scifispaces at gmail.com>

Deadline for proposals: 9 April, 2019.

Alex Christie, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Digital Prototyping
Chair, Technology and Infrastructure, Modernist Studies Association
Centre for Digital Humanities, Brock University

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