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CFP, 200 Years of Interdisciplinarity Beginning with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: The Third Annual City Tech Symposium on Science Fiction

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, 1831 edition.

I’m pleased to announce the call for papers for the Third Annual City Tech Symposium on Science Fiction!

Details about this year’s theme, the date of the symposium, and the deadline for paper proposals (Oct. 31, 2018) are all below.

200 Years of Interdisciplinarity Beginning with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: The Third Annual City Tech Symposium on Science Fiction

 

Date and Time: Tuesday, November 27, 2018. 9:00am-5:00pm

Location: New York City College of Technology, 300 Jay St., Namm N119, Brooklyn, NY

 

“So much has been done, exclaimed the soul of Frankenstein—more, far more, will I achieve; treading in the steps already marked, I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation.”

–Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1831 edition)

“Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

–Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), Jurassic Park (1993)

Ian Malcolm’s admonition above is as much a rebuke to the lasting echo of Victor Frankenstein’s ambition to accomplish “more, far more” as it is to park owner John Hammond’s explaining, “Our scientists have done things no one could ever do before.” Films like Jurassic Park and the kind of literature that came to be known as Science Fiction (SF) owe a tremendous debt to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818). In addition to being an (if not the) inaugural work of SF, Mary Shelley builds her cautionary tale around interdisciplinary approaches to science, and she takes this innovation further by applying the humanities to question the nature of being in the world, the effects of science on society, and the ethical responsibilities of scientists. These are only some of Frankenstein’s groundbreaking insights, which as Brian Aldiss and David Wingrove observe in Trillion Year Spree (1986), “is marvellously good and inexhaustible in its interest” (20). The many dimensions of interdisciplinarity in Frankenstein and the SF that followed are the focus of the Third Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium.

In this special anniversary year of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, join us for a one-day symposium discussing interdisciplinarity and SF. Continuing conversations began in the earlier symposia, we seek to investigate SF’s power as an extrapolating art form with interdisciplinarity at its core, including interdisciplinarity within STEM fields and the interdisciplinary synergy of STEM and the humanities.

We invite presentations of 15-20 minutes on SF and interdisciplinarity. Papers on or connected to Frankenstein are particularly encouraged. Possible presentation topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and interdisciplinarity (focusing on research questions or teaching approaches)
  • Explorations of interdisciplinary ideas, approaches, and themes in SF (or what disciplinary boundaries does SF bridge)
  • SF as an interdisciplinary teaching tool (or what SF have you used or want to use in your classes to achieve interdisciplinary outcomes)
  • SF’s interdisciplinary imaginative functions (or Gedankenexperiment, considering ethical issues, unintended consequences, or unexpected breakthroughs)
  • Studying SF through an interdisciplinary lens (or combining otherwise discipline-bound approaches to uncover new meanings)
  • Bridging STEM and the humanities via SF (or SF as an interdisciplinary cultural work that embraces STEAM—Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics)
  • SF and identity (or how interdisciplinarity in SF reveals, supports, or explores issues of identity, culture, sex, gender, and race)
  • SF and place (or how SF’s settings are interdisciplinary, or where it is written fosters its interdisciplinarity)
  • Interdisciplinarity and archival work in SF collections (or making the City Tech Science Fiction Collection work for faculty, students, and researchers across disciplines)

Please send your abstract (no more than 250 words), brief bio, and contact information to Jason Ellis (jellis@citytech.cuny.edu) by Oct. 31, 2018.

The program will be announced by Nov. 12, 2018 on the Science Fiction at City Tech website here: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/sciencefictionatcitytech/.

Hosted by the School of Arts and Sciences at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY.

The Annual City Tech Symposium on Science Fiction is held in celebration of the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, an archival holding of over 600-linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and scholarship. It is located in the Archives and Special Collections of the Ursula C. Schwerin Library (Library Building, L543C, New York City College of Technology, 300 Jay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201). More information about the collection and how to access it is available here: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/sciencefictionatcitytech/librarycollection/.

Analog and Asimov’s SF Associate Editor Visited the City Tech Science Fiction Collection

Emily Hockaday

On Oct. 12, 2018, Emily Hockaday, Associate Editor at Analog and Asimov’s, received a tour of the City Tech Science Fiction Collection by Prof. Jason Ellis and Collections Management Librarian Wanett Clyde. With Analog’s 90th anniversary approaching in 2020, Ms. Hockaday was interested in learning more about our holdings of Analog, which includes most issues from 1934 to 2006.

During the visit, Ms. Hockaday shared Analog’s new social media outreach, including Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and she encouraged City Tech student writers to enter the annual Dell Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing, which can be a tremendous recognition of one’s work and open doors to further opportunities.

 

Another Round of City Tech Science Fiction Collection Inventorying

 

Kate Wilhelm autograph

On August 6-8, Prof. Jason W. Ellis continued to inventory the shelved novels of the City Tech Science Fiction Collection. Since the last inventory session, he spent 20 hours at home typing in the author, title, and publisher information for the remaining novels based on the photographic inventory that he made after the collection had been originally shelved. While some titles were incomplete but could be gleaned through database research at the ISFDB or Worldcat, other titles were obscured in the photographic inventory, so these had to be seen in person. For all of the remaining titles, the publication date or copyright date (depending on what information the publisher was inclined to include) had to be found in each open book. This meant that even though all originally shelved novels are recorded by author’s name, title, and publisher, the publication date and any other relevant information (edition, marginalia, inscriptions, etc.) have to be recorded in person. During the nine hours in the archives this week, Prof. Ellis recorded the dates from 26 shelves of books bringing the total shelves remaining to be recorded to about 30. This should be accomplished during the coming academic year.

Also during this time, Prof. Ellis gave a tour of the collection to David B. Smith, Dean of the School of Professional Studies, and he met City Tech’s new Collections Management Librarian, Wanett Clyde.

 

City Tech Science Fiction Collection Inventory Continues

Jason Ellis, Lavelle Porter, and Jessica Roman

L to R: Jason Ellis, Lavelle Porter, and Jessica Roman

From July 9 to July 11, City Tech faculty and students continued to inventory the City Tech Science Fiction Collection. Over the last two years, we inventoried the 4000+ magazines and 1700 monographs and anthologies. This year’s goal is to complete the finding aid database with the remaining scholarly journals and novels.

On July 9, Prof. Jason Ellis spent three hours in the archives and an hour at home entering information into the collection’s finding aid for all of the scholarly journals.

Prof. Laura Westengard

Laura Westengard

On July 10, Profs. Laura Westengard and Jason Ellis cataloged almost 300 novels over three hours.

Lavelle Porter and Julia Roman

L to R: Lavelle Porter and Jessica Roman

On July 11, Profs. Lavelle Porter, Lucas Kwong, and Jason Ellis, and City Tech student Jessica Roman cataloged about 350 novels over four hours.

Lucas Kwong

Lucas Kwong

Over these three days, we accomplished an inventory of two-and-a-half bookcases, which leaves eleven-and-a-half bookcases to inventory.

Prof. Lavelle Porter Speaks on Teaching and Samuel R. Delany at SFRA 2018

English Professor Lavelle Porter will discuss his Fall 2017 English 3403: One Major Writer class on the SF writer Samuel R. Delany at an upcoming roundtable panel on “Reimagining Race and Racism through SF” at this year’s annual meeting of the Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA) held at Marquette University from July 1-4, 2018. The SFRA is the oldest professional organization devoted to the research and teaching of SF, and its annual meeting attracts an international audience of scholars. Full details of Prof. Porter’s roundtable are below, and the full conference schedule is available here.

Monday, July 2, 2018, 2:00-3:30pm
ROUNDTABLE: REIMAGINING RACE AND RACISM THROUGH SF
Moderator: Andrew Hageman, Luther College
Stina Attebery
Novian Whitsitt
Lavelle Porter
Isiah Lavender III

“In Search of Samuel R. Delany”

In this presentation I will discuss my experiences in the Fall of 2017 when I taught a course at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY on the work of Samuel R. Delany. The course was part of my department’s “English 3403: One Major Writer” series, and it was also related to ongoing initiatives in science fiction and pedagogy at City Tech. The Ursula C. Schwerin Library at City Tech recently acquired an archive of science fiction material, and our English department regularly offers courses on science fiction. My course was titled “Samuel R. Delany: Science Fiction and the City,” and it was organized as an introduction to Delany’s writing in science fiction and other genres, including criticism, memoir, and literary fiction. The main texts included Aye, and Gomorrah, Babel-17, and Atlantis: Model 1924. This ended up being a small course with six students. As a college with a vocational and technical focus, none of the students in the course were English majors, and none of them had heard of the writer before the class. We discussed Delany’s role in the development of Afrofuturism, his family’s background in Harlem, his writing on queer life before and after Stonewall, and the significance of the city as a concept in his work. The semester was capped off with a public reading by Delany who was the keynote speaker for our second annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium.

Lavelle Porter is an Assistant Professor of English at New York City College of Technology, CUNY. He holds a B.A. in history from Morehouse College, and a Ph. D. in English from the CUNY Graduate Center. His writing has appeared in venues such as The New Inquiry, Poetry Foundation, Callaloo and JSTOR Daily, and he is a regular contributor to Black Perspectives, the blog of the African American Intellectual History Society. He is currently working on a book titled The Blackademic Life: Academic Fiction, Higher Education and the Black Intellectual.

Prof. Lucas Kwong’s ENG2420 Science Fiction Class Visits the City Tech SF Collection

City Tech Science Fiction Collection Presentation

Today, Prof. Lucas Kwong brought his ENG2420 Science Fiction students to visit the City Tech Science Fiction Collection as a part of their final paper research. The goal of the visit was to introduce students to SF magazine culture by inviting students to see, hold, and browse a selection of different kinds of magazines held in the collection.

Consulting with Prof. Kwong before the class, Prof. Jason Ellis pulled a selection of magazines that students could read in the Archives classroom:

Analog Science Fiction and Fact (with fan letters)
June 1995
July 1995 (check out this editorial)
Aug 1995
Sept 1995

Amazing Stories (with fan letters)
Jan 1985
Mar 1985
May 1985
July 1985

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (no fan letters)
Aug 1989
Sept 1989
Oct 1989
Nov 1989

Vertex (no fan letters)
Jun 1973 (article on water and ecological catastrophe)
Feb 1974 (Joanna Russ’ famous “Image of Women in Science Fiction” essay)
Apr 1974 (interview with Harlan Ellison–I can tell the class about Ellison’s history in Red Hook)
June 1974 (Poul Anderson’s reply to Joanna Russ’ essay)
Oct 1974 (Philip K. Dick’s reply to to Joanna Russ)

Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (Brooklyn’s own, with fan letters)
Nov 1991
Dec 1991
Mid-Dec 1991
Jan 1992

Omni
June 1981
Aug 1981
Sept 1981
July 1982 (William Gibson’s “Burning Chrome”–introduction of the word cyberspace to English lexicon)

After meeting the students outside the library, Profs. Kwong and Ellis led the students to the fifth floor of the library and the Archives classroom where they met with Prof. Keith Muchowski, who arranged for the Archives class visit. Prof. Ellis delivered a brief oral history of the collection and talked about SF magazines in general (presentation file embedded above). Then, Prof. Kwong asked his students to study and discover interesting things in the magazines that we handed out. After making the rounds of each group of students, Prof. Kwong asked students to mingle around and see how their first magazines are similar to and different than the other magazines. While students were looking at these magazines, some asked Prof. Ellis for specific issues and books in the collection, which he brought out for them to see for their research.

This is one model for students visiting the City Tech SF Collection. If you’d like to bring your class to the archives, please reach out to Prof. Keith Muchowski (kmuchowski at citytech.cuny.edu). If you’d like help planning the visit or would like me to talk about the collection to students, feel free to email me (jellis at citytech.cuny.edu).

Philip K. Dick Books Now in the City Tech Science Fiction Collection

Hounion and Muchowski

Library Professors Morris Hounion and Keith Muchowski (pictured above, l to r) cleared an entire shelving unit (no small feat considering the college’s archival holdings) for the approximately twelve boxes of unshelved materials from the original donation and English Professor Aaron Barlow’s recent Philip K. Dick book donation. I filled several shelves with the PKD books (pictured below), which leaves three-and-a-half shelves available for boxed materials.

PKD books

Prof. Aaron Barlow Donates Philip K. Dick Books to the City Tech Science Fiction Collection

Barlow

Prof. Aaron Barlow donated a considerable collection of Philip K. Dick novels, anthologies, and scholarship to the City Tech Science Fiction Collection on 22 March 2018.

At a glance, the 124-item donation includes all of Dick’s Science Fiction and posthumously published mainstream fiction. Additionally, the donation includes a lot of PKD research and criticism.

Some of the standout items donated include:

  • Philip K. Dick’s Underwood Miller 5-Volume, Boxed Set of Collected Short Stories (Vol. 1, Beyond Lies the Wub; Vol. 2, Second Variety; Vol. 3, The Father-Thing; Vol. 4, The Days of Perky Pat; and Vol. 5, The Little Black Box)
  • Philip K. Dick’s Gregg Press Publications (Eye in the Sky, Vulcan’s Hammer, The Zap Gun, The World Jones Made, and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch)
  • Philip K. Dick’s Gollancz Edition of Galactic Pot-Healer
  • Philip K. Dick’s Ziesing Edition of The Dark Haired Girl
  • Lawrence Sutin’s In Pursuit of VALIS: Selections from the Exegesis
  • Gregg Rickman’s To the High Castle: Philip K. Dick, A Life 1928-1962
  • Gregg Rickman’s Philip K. Dick In His Own Words
  • Gregg Rickman’s Philip K. Dick: The Last Testament
  • Paul William’s Only Apparently Real
  • Patricia Warrick’s Mind in Motion: The Fiction of Philip K. Dick
  • Patricia Warrick and Martin Greenberg’s Robots, Androids, and Mechanical Oddieis: The Science Fiction of Philip K. Dick

Special Issue on Star Wars: The Force Awakens Published in NANO: New American Notes Online

Star Wars collage

Special Issue Co-Editors Jason W. Ellis and Sean Scanlan (both in City Tech’s Department of English) are pleased to announce the publication of NANO: New American Notes Online issue 12 on Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Narrative, Characters, Media, and Event. Focusing on the transmedia aspects of the continuation of the Star Wars film saga following Lucasfilm’s acquisition by Disney, this issue’s contributors explore how transmedia storytelling is leveraged in different aspects of fanfiction, promoting ideologies of global capitalism, and reconfigures Joseph Campbell’s hero myth. Also, we are honored to present an interview with Cass R. Sunstein, author of The World According to Star Wars. Now that The Last Jedi is in theaters, there is much more to be said on the issues these contributors debate. Follow the link below to read the current issue.

https://nanocrit.com/issues/issue12

NANO Issue 12: Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Narrative, Characters, Media, and Event

– Editor’s Introduction for NANO Special Issue 12: Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Narrative, Characters, Media, and Event by Jason W. Ellis and Sean Scanlan

– Welcoming the Dark Side?: Exploring Whitelash and Actual Space Nazis in TFA Fanfiction by Cait Coker and Karen Viars

– Poe Dameron Hurts So Prettily: How Fandom Negotiates with Transmedia Characterization by Chera Kee

– Interpellation by the Force: Biopolitical Cultural Apparatuses in The Force Awakens by Simon Orpana

– The Force Awakens: The Individualistic and Contemporary Heroine by Payal Doctor

– An Interview with Cass R. Sunstein: Author of The World According to Star Wars by Jason W. Ellis and Sean Scanlan

 

NANO: New American Notes Online is an interdisciplinary academic journal. Our goal is to invigorate humanities discourse by publishing brief peer-reviewed reports with a fast turnaround enabled by digital technologies.

 

Currently open NANO calls for papers include:

– Issue 13: Special Issue on The Anthropocene, Guest Editors: Kyle Wiggins and Brandon Krieg

Deadline: January 12, 2018

– Issue 14: Special Issue: Captivity Narratives Then and Now: Gender, Race, and the Captive in 20th and 21st American Literature and Culture, Guest Editors: Megan Behrent and Rebecca Devers

Deadline: May 15, 2018

Visit https://nanocrit.com/Submissions for details and instructions for submitting your writing.

Videos of 2nd Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium

Below are videos of the presentations made at the 2nd Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium on Extrapolation, Interdisciplinarity, and Learning held on Dec. 6, 2017. They are included in the order from the program with the last video being the very special keynote address by Samuel R. Delany. If you’d like to watch all these as a playlist on YouTube, follow this link.