On Tuesday, November 29, over 70 attendees and presenters gathered at City Tech to celebrate the new City Tech Science Fiction Collection and discuss the importance of science fiction as a method for understanding the effect of science and technology on humanity, a pedagogical tool in writing, history, and interdisciplinary learning environments, and a medium for understanding our place in the world, imagining different possible worlds, and conceptualizing new paths forward–including career paths. In addition to presenters from City Tech, there were speakers from City University of New York, Columbia University, Winthrop Group, Yale University, and York College. Very importantly, the City Tech Science Fiction Collection’s initiator and former City Tech professor, Alan Lovegreen flew out from California where he now teaches at Orange Coast College. A roundtable of City Tech students closed out the presentation portion of the symposium, and we ended the day with a presentation on the acquisition of the City Tech Science Fiction Collection and a tour of the archives. It was a full day of conversation, learning, and sharing. Its success points the way toward the next symposium to be held next year. Last but not least, the Symposium on Amazing Stories Organizing Committee–Profs. Jason W. Ellis (chair), Aaron Barlow, Jill Belli, and Mary Nilles wish to thank everyone who took part in the symposium and the many people–administrators, colleagues, and students–who made the event such an enjoyable and meaningful event!
Prof. Jason Ellis installed a magazine cover and science fiction artifact exhibit in the front window space of the City Tech Library. He took photos of magazine covers that related to the historical and current work represented by the schools and departments on campus. Then, he compiled these into large collages (standardizing each cover to be 9.5″ tall), which Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Justin Vazquez-Poritz had printed. Prof. Ellis cut the magazine covers out of the collages, and with the help of masonry guide lines, hung nearly 70 magazine cover prints on the exhibit space wall with pushpins. He created the large poster to the left side of the exhibit to describe the collection. In the front of the exhibit space, Prof. Ellis displayed a historical selection of artifacts–magazines from the collection (Amazing Stories, Astounding, Galaxy, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction) and novels/collections from his personal collection (Shelley’s Frankenstein, Ellison’s Dangerous Visions, Sargent’s Women of Wonder, and Sterling’s Mirrorshades). The exhibit will run from the last week of November 2016 until the end of the semester.
Symposium on Amazing Stories: Inspiration, Learning, and Adventure in Science Fiction
Tuesday, Nov. 29, 9am-5pm
Everyone is invited to the Symposium on Amazing Stories: Inspiration, Learning, and Adventure in Science Fiction. Join us on Tuesday, Nov. 29 from 9:00am-5:00pm in Namm 119 (City Tech, 300 Jay St., Brooklyn) for a symposium exploring SF as a medium for engaging imagination, a means for exploring STEM/STEAM fields, and an instrument for discovering interdisciplinary connections, and also celebrating the new City Tech Science Fiction Collection held in the Archives and Special Collections of the Ursula C. Schwerin Library. The tentative schedule is included below (the final program will be posted as soon as possible).
Registration and Coffee
Justin Vazquez-Poritz, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, New York City College of Technology
Jason W. Ellis, New York City College of Technology
Session 1: History of/and Science Fiction
Moderator: Aaron Barlow, New York City College of Technology
Jason W. Ellis, New York City College of Technology, “Engagement, Learning and Inspiration in SF: Use Cases for the City Tech Science Fiction Collection”
Alan Lovegreen, Orange Coast College, “Hugo Gernsback, Interdisciplinarity, and Wonder Stories”
Sean Scanlan, New York City College of Technology, “William Gibson’s Dead Tech Collection: Characters, Narratives, Time”
Grant Wythoff, Columbia University, “Hugo Gernsback and the Origins of Science Fiction”
Session 2: Science Fiction Teaching Strategies
Moderator: Johannah Rodgers, New York City College of Technology
Leigh Dara Gold, New York City College of Technology, “Exploring Human Experience with Ursula K. Le Guin and Ray Bradbury”
Amanda Lerner, Yale University, “Bridging Cultures with Russian Science Fiction”
Daniel Phelps, York College, “Building and Hacking: Keeping Up-To-Date with Science Fiction”
Johannah Rodgers, New York City College of Technology, “Todorov and the Incredible Hulk, or Exploring the Roles and Definitions of Fiction Across the Disciplines”
Session 3: Science Fiction Contexts
Moderator: Sean Scanlan, New York City College of Technology
Marleen S. Barr, City University of New York, “Why Science Fiction Is Pertinent to Black Children’s Literature Pedagogy”
Jill Belli, New York City College of Technology, “Teaching Science Fiction, Utopian, and Dystopian Literatures at City Tech”
Stephen Chambers, Winthrop Group, “Reading the Future to Bring the Past into the Present: Why Science Fiction Makes Better Historians”
A. Lavelle Porter, New York City College of Technology, “Samuel Delany’s The Motion of Light in Water and SF Publishing”
Session 4: Science Fiction in and beyond the Classrooms: A Student Roundtable
Moderator: Jill Belli, New York City College of Technology
Participants: Joselin Campoverde
Shiasja Simeon Prince
Location: Enter the library on the fourth floor of the Atrium Building, walk up to the fifth floor inside the library, walk to the left past the stacks, and turn left again.
Keith Muchowski, College Archivist, New York City College of Technology
Jason W. Ellis, New York City College of Technology
Marleen S. Barr is known for her pioneering work in feminist science fiction and teaches English at the City University of New York. She has won the Science Fiction Research Association Pilgrim Award for lifetime achievement in science fiction criticism. Barr is the author of Alien to Femininity: Speculative Fiction and Feminist Theory, Lost in Space: Probing Feminist Science Fiction and Beyond, Feminist Fabulation: Space/Postmodern Fiction, and Genre Fission: A New Discourse Practice for Cultural Studies. Barr has edited many anthologies and co-edited the science fiction issue of PMLA. She is the author of the novels Oy Pioneer! and Oy Feminist Planets: A Fake Memoir.
Jill Belli, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of English and Co-Director of the OpenLab, the college’s open-source digital platform for teaching, learning, and collaborating. Jill is active in utopian studies and science fiction, and she regularly designs/teaches courses, presents at conferences, and produces scholarship in these areas. She is collaborating on a digital science fiction project, the Futures Past Archive, and serves on the Steering Committee, the Teaching Committee, and as the web developer for the Society for Utopian Studies. She is also a founding member and developer of the Writing Studies Tree, an online, open-access, interactive academic genealogy for the field of writing studies. Her interdisciplinary research centers on utopian studies, positive psychology/happiness studies, writing studies, digital humanities, and education/pedagogy, and her current book project, Pedagogies of Happiness, explores their intersections.
Stephen Chambers is the author of works of science fiction and fantasy such as Jane and the Raven King (Sourcebooks, 2010), as well as business and history, including most recently No God But Gain: The Untold Story of Cuban Slavery, the Monroe Doctrine, and the Making of the United States (New York: Verso Books, 2015). He is a senior consultant and the deputy manager of the History Division at the Winthrop Group.
Jason W. Ellis is an Assistant Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, and a former Marion L. Brittain Fellow of Georgia Tech. He coedited The Postnational Fantasy: Postcolonialism, Cosmopolitics and Science Fiction (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2011). His research interests include science fiction, digital technology, and LEGO.
Leigh Dara Gold received her doctorate in German Literature in 2011 from New York University. Since then, she has been teaching English at CUNY colleges and History at New Jersey City University. Some of her research interests include the interconnections between dance and literature, science fiction and sadism, and the question of intimacy in poetry.
Amanda Lerner is a fifth-year PhD candidate in the department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Yale University. She specializes in science fiction as both a genre and a mode. Her dissertation, tentatively titled “In Dialogue with The Future: Time Travel in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russian Fiction,” focuses on how a traditionally generic device, such as time travel, can complicate and supercede the generic distinction of ‘science fiction.’ Her research interests also include Balkan/Yugoslav literature, (re)identification of the formation of nationhood in the post-Yugoslav context, the interplay between American and Soviet science fiction, and dystopian literature as reimagination and recontextualization of the present.
Alan Lovegreen’s research covers intersections of literature and technoculture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with a focus on aerofuturism in discourses of race, posthumanism, the built environment, and ecological futures. He has published essays in Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts, Paradoxa: Studies in World Literary Genres, La Torre di Babele: Rivista di Letteratura e Linguistica, The Eaton Journal of Archival Research in Science Fiction, and The Steinbeck Review. He is currently working on an edited anthology of aerial fiction. Alan teaches at Orange Coast College, having formerly taught at New York City College of Technology.
Daniel Phelps is an integrated media artist and filmmaker in New York City. His work consists of various forms of non-fiction media specializing in the use of hi-technology for digital storytelling. His linear work has been seen on NBC Sports, The Tennis Channel, and cable networks across the country. More recently, his feature-length documentary, The Domino Effect, advocates for fair housing and informed urban planning in New York City. Daniel holds a B.A. in Mass Media Communication from The California State University Sacramento as well as a M.F.A. in Integrated Media Arts from Hunter College. Through grant funding, he participated in the 2015 and 2016 Robotic Mining Competitions and the NASA Swarmathon. His current focus of research consists of the use of drones, robotics, virtual reality and other forms of digital fabrication as commercial and artistic tools.
A. Lavelle Porter is an Assistant Professor of English at City Tech. 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 GC Advocate, Callaloo, The New Inquiry, Poetry Foundation, and the African American Intellectual History Society. He is currently working on a book about representations of black higher education in popular culture.
Johannah Rodgers is an Associate Professor in English at the City University of New York’s New York City College of Technology and the Director of City Tech’s First Year Writing Program. She is the author of Technology: A Reader for Writers (Oxford University Press, 2014), the digital fiction project DNA (mimeograph/The Brooklyn Rail, 2014), and the book sentences (Red Dust, 2007). Her short stories, essays, and book reviews have been published in Fence, Bookforum, and The Brooklyn Rail, where she is a contributing editor.
Sean Scanlan is Assistant Professor of English at New York City College of Technology, where he specializes in literary technologies and American and global literature. He is the founder and editor of the peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal NANO: New American Notes Online. And he recently published an article titled “Global Homesickness in William Gibson’s Blue Ant Trilogy” in a 2016 collection titled The City after 9/11.
Grant Wythoff is a Digital Methods and Public Humanities Fellow at Columbia University interested in the history and theory of media technologies, twentieth century American literature, the history of method in the humanities, and science fiction. His book The Perversity of Things: Hugo Gernsback on Media, Tinkering, and Scientifiction was published in the University of Minnesota Press’s Electronic Mediations series, and will be a pilot project for their Manifold Scholarship interactive book platform. His next book project is a cultural history of the gadget from nineteenth-century nautical techniques to the twenty-first century smartphone. Grant has published essays in Grey Room, Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, Cinema Journal Teaching Dossier, Media Fields, Wi: Journal of Mobile Media, and The Programming Historian.
On Oct. 7, 2016, Professors Aaron Barlow (in absentia, read by Jason Ellis), Mark Noonan, and Jason Ellis led a full paper session devoted to the City Tech Science Fiction Collection. Prof. Barlow presented on the collection’s acquisition, its original collector, and its importance to the materiality of education that we do at City Tech. Prof. Noonan presented on pulp publishing history in New York City and how it relates to the magazine holdings in the collection. Finally, Prof. Ellis presented on how he has used the collection pedagogically for students (removing readings from the abstraction of anthologization) and for faculty (using SF as a bridge between the humanities and STEM fields). Below are photos taken by Prof. Caroline Hellman of the session.
Date: Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, 9:00AM-5:00PM
Wednesday, November 30, 2016, 9:00AM-5:00PM
Location: New York City College of Technology, 300 Jay St., Namm N119
“By ‘scientifiction’ I mean the Jules Verne, H. G. Wells and Edgar Allan Poe type of story—a charming romance intermingled with scientific fact and prophetic vision … Not only do these amazing tales make tremendously interesting reading—they are always instructive.”
-Hugo Gernsback, 1926.
When the widely recognized “Father of Science Fiction,” Hugo Gernsback first coined the term that captured the essence of the genre we now call science fiction (SF), he envisioned SF as a new form of literature that inspired with prophecy, taught with scientific and technical facts, and engaged with adventure. These traits unique to SF have launched many of its readers on trajectories into the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) fields.
Join us for a one-day symposium exploring SF as a medium for engaging imagination, a means for exploring STEM/STEAM fields, and an instrument for discovering interdisciplinary connections, and also celebrating the new City Tech Science Fiction Collection held in the Archives and Special Collections of the Ursula C. Schwerin Library.
We invite presentations of 10-15 minutes on SF and how it fulfills learning, inspiration, and fun in STEAM-focused environments. Possible presentation topics include, but are not limited to:
• SF inspired STEM careers (or what SF inspired you to enter your field?)
• SF as a teaching tool (or what SF have you used or want to use in your classes?)
• SF’s imaginative functions (or Gedankenexperiment, considering ethical issues and unintended consequences, visualizing the influence of science and technology on society)
• Bridging STEM and the humanities via SF (or SF as an interdisciplinary cultural work that embraces STEAM)
• SF and place (or SF’s deep roots in Brooklyn and New York City)
• The fun and learning in archival work in SF collections (or making the City Tech Science Fiction Collection work for faculty, students, and researchers)
Please send a 100-word abstract, brief bio, and contact information to Jason Ellis (jellis at citytech.cuny.edu) by Oct. 31, 2016. Schedule will be announced Nov.15, 2016.
Organizing Committee: Jason Ellis (Chair), Aaron Barlow, Jill Belli, and Mary Nilles.
Prof. Jill Belli visited the City Tech Science Fiction Collection with Prof. Jason Ellis on Monday, August 22, 2016. Prof. Belli is teaching ENG 2420, Science Fiction this coming semester, Fall 2016. She is planning how to incorporate the collection and access to its materials into her Science Fiction class.
Prof. Jason Ellis met with Chief Librarian Maura Smale and College Archivist Keith Muchowski on August 16, 2016 to discuss the collection’s on-going inventory, protocols for class/student visits to use collection materials, and preservation materials, and coordinate on upcoming initiatives, including a symposium and library display exhibit. There are some exciting things in the works. More to come soon. Stay tuned!
Using the inventory data generated over the past several weeks, Prof. Jason W. Ellis created a temporary finding aid for magazine issues held in the City Tech Science Fiction Collection.
Available in PDF format here (sfcollection-magazines-inventory.xlsx.pdf) and linked on the Library/Collection page, it is organized alphabetically by title, publication date, volume/number (when needed), and shelf location (row.stack–aisle to wall.shelf–top to bottom). This finding aid supplements the photographic inventory of each shelf’s holdings in the collection. It indicates that there are 4,147 magazines on the shelves (the collection’s Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock Magazines remain boxed while additional shelf space is found).
In the coming months, Prof. Ellis intends to create other temporary finding aids for the monographs, journals, anthologies, and novels in the collection, and those will be made available here when completed.
On July 21, Prof. Jason W. Ellis spent two-and-a-half hours in the library’s archives completing the magazine portion of the City Tech Science Fiction Collection’s inventory. It took 17 hours total to inventory over 4,000 items!
This session included The Twilight Zone, Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Omni, Other Times, and Last Wave. Now that the magazine inventory has been completed (at least for what is currently shelved–Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock are still boxed due to limited shelf space), a temporary finding aid will be linked on the Library/Collection page and a notification will be made here on the blog when it is available.
On July 20, Prof. Jason W. Ellis spent two hours in the library’s archives inventorying the magazine portion of the City Tech Science Fiction Collection. This part of the inventory included Fantastic Story, Science Fiction Age, two mislaid Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction issues, Fantasy Book, Fantastic Novels, Startling Stories, and Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. Some magazine covers from this day’s inventory are included below.