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
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.