Prof. Jason W. Ellis installed three window displays in the entrance to City Tech’s Ursula C. Schwerin Library, where the City Tech Science Fiction Collection is housed. When entering the library, on the right are two displays: the first is on the upcoming 2nd Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium on Extrapolation, Interdisciplinarity, and Learning, and the second is an Author Spotlight on Samuel R. Delany, this year’s keynote speaker for the symposium. On the left side, adjacent to the circulation desk, is a display on the City Tech Science Fiction Symposium. In addition to designing posters for these displays and showing magazine covers from the collection, each exhibit has artifacts from the collection. Samuel R. Delany’s exhibit features magazines in which his fiction appears. These exhibits will be up until January 2018.
Extrapolation, Interdisciplinarity, and Learning: The Second Annual City Tech Symposium on Science Fiction
Date: Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Location: New York City College of Technology, 300 Jay St., Namm N119,
Keynote Speaker: Samuel R. Delany
Knowledge is indivisible. When people grow wise in one direction, they are sure to make it easier for themselves to grow wise in other directions as well. On the other hand, when they split up knowledge, concentrate on their own field, and scorn and ignore other fields, they grow less wise—even in their own field.
How often people speak of art and science as though they were two entirely different things, with no interconnection. . . . That is all wrong. . . . If we go through the history of human advance, we find that there are many places where art and science intermingled and where an advance in one was impossible without an advance in the other.
–Isaac Asimov, A Roving Mind (1983)
Over twenty years after C. P. Snow published The Two Cultures, the unparalleled writer, scientist, and educator Isaac Asimov defends the “interconnection” between the sciences and the arts. In fact, he demonstrates the importance of interdisciplinarity—both within STEM fields as well as between STEM and the humanities—through his unsurpassed 500+ books ranging from Biblical scholarship to biochemistry, and science to science fiction. He shows how disciplines inform and strengthen one another to create greater knowledge and wisdom, which in turn leads to greater understanding and new insights. While significant strides have been made in promoting interdisciplinarity, Asimov’s defense continues to echo today.
Join us for a one-day symposium in the spirit of Asimov’s defense by exploring interdisciplinarity through the lens of science fiction—a mediating ‘third culture’ (borrowing Snow’s term) that combines the sciences and the humanities to extrapolate new worlds while reflecting on our own. This symposium aims to explore science fiction as an interdisciplinary literary form, a tool for teaching interdisciplinarity, and a cultural art form benefiting from interdisciplinary research approaches.
We invite presentations of 15-20 minutes on SF and interdisciplinarity. Possible presentation topics include, but are not limited to:
- 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 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 (email@example.com) by Oct. 31, 2017.
The program will be announced by Nov. 15, 2017 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 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 (Atrium Building, A543C, 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/.
During Summer 2017, Prof. Jason W. Ellis spent 30 hours inventorying the City Tech Science Fiction Collection’s scholarly books and SF anthologies. These 1,694 books are on rows 116 and 115. He added a PDF of the inventory with shelf location information to the City Tech Science Fiction Collection page. Also, he updated the PDF of the 4,149 magazine inventory originally made last year. The next phase of the inventory will focus on the SF novels on rows 114 through 112. The final phases will include the SF journal scholarship and mystery/horror magazines, which are not yet shelved.
On Thursday, December 1, 2016, Prof. Jill Belli held an ENG 2420, Science Fiction class session in the Atrium 543 Archives Classroom for a special introduction of the City Tech Science Fiction Collection to her students. Prof. Keith Muchowski coordinated with Prof. Belli to arrange the visit. Prof. Belli’s class is the first to officially visit and use the City Tech Science Fiction Collection as part of a class discussion. Prof. Jason W. Ellis pulled materials from the collection based on student interests for students to use during an in-class exercise, gave an oral history presentation on how the collection came to be at City Tech, and gave several mini-tours of the collection to groups of four students at a time (this permits students to browse the collection without overcrowding in the archive and makes it easy for the tour guide to respond to questions and talk with the students). One of Prof. Belli’s students exclaimed, “This is a MAGAZINE??!!” Students were able to hold, read, and discuss the magazines with one another. Prof. Belli and Prof. Ellis responded to their questions about the different magazines in the collection, issues with publication and preservation, the magazines’ contents (stories, editorials, letters, advertisements), and the magazines’ smells. When class was over, no one seemed to want to leave!
Thanks for adding “Science Fiction at City Tech” to “In the Spotlight” in December 2016, OpenLab folks! You guys build great tools for us to do the work that we do at City Tech!
On Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, Prof. Jason Ellis recorded video footage of the archival space that houses the City Tech Science Fiction Collection. Over the following weekend, he wrote a script describing the video footage, and recorded a voice over for the video footage based on the script. Using Apple’s iMovie, he added titles to the video footage and uploaded the rendered video file to YouTube. You can watch the video embedded below.
On Thursday, December 8, Dr. Lisa Rhody, Deputy Director of Digital Initiatives at the CUNY Graduate Center, and Dr. Matt Gold, Associate Professor of English and Digital Humanities at the CUNY Graduate Center, visited City Tech to find out about its digital initiatives and related projects, including OpenLab, Serious Change Through Play, and the City Tech Science Fiction Collection.
Prof. Jason Ellis met them and Prof. Patrick Corbett at the City Tech Library to show them the current City Tech Science Fiction Collection exhibit and to give them a tour of the collection in the library’s archives. They discussed strategies for using the collection and opportunities for its further development.
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.