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Termine diesen Monat

Energy Futures between Surplus and Scarcity

Thirteenth Biennial Conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, to be held June 26-30, 2019, at the University of California, Davis


If there is a "Paradise On Fire," then it is quite likely due to an excessive use of fossil fuels—when has there ever been an explosion (in Hollywood) that did not evoke some form of petro-aesthetics? Many imagined futures, be they utopian or apocalyptic in nature, seldomly contend with the contemporary issue of looming energy scarcity; on the contrary, most appear to rely on infinite energy resources. When one of these paradises is 'on fire,' either literally or metaphorically, the cause is nearly always human, or at least anthropocentric; a social uprising or unrest of native populations, transgression of ethical beliefs with regards to terraforming or genetic manipulation, overcrossing boundaries between human and machine where the two become almost indistinguishable, and so on. In much science ficiton, taking extreme measures for energy needs passes as a conceit, rather than a critique. The future appears to be one where issues of sustainable energy production, consumption, and distribution are things of the past—even though they are very much the present too. While innocent on the surface, such constructed futures with a narrative promise of free and inexhaustible energy pose significant problems that reframe our extreme dependency on fossil fuels and its deeply rooted entanglement with capitalism, extending as it does through our bodies, ways of living, narratives, aesthetics, and ideologies. If we want to prevent our future lighting on fire as easily as a Christmas plum pudding, then we need to challenge the narratives of complete reliance on fossil fuels, of free, clean, and inexhaustible energy resources. Through the framework of the energy humanities, it is possible to interrogate such futures, questioning how they function and what they can tell and possibly teach us about the cultural problems that surround contemporary energy use, reliance and dependence. 

This panel seeks provocations that work through the way energy overdetermines the shape of the future, both imagined and real. Such critical presentations might ruminate on how specific texts, subgenre subcurrents, or particular modes of science fiction feature, represent, or subvert energy's potential reinventions. Whether catastrophic or utopian, our intuition is that science-fictional futures are always bound up with energy concerns. We seek papers that argue for or against such an assessment, including papers that take up energy and science fiction as central vectors of their environmental critique. We are especially interested in a roundtable format model, including 5 or 6 short (5-10 minute) presentations and followed up with discussion. 

Topics might include, but are not limited to, the following: 

·       Representation and role of fossil fuels in future narratives 

·       Aesthetics of fossil fuel futures 

·       Emancipation and clean energy 

·       Free energy and the trope of the inexhaustible

·       Resource aesthetics 

·       The social politics of surplus and scarcity 

·       Energy and genre 

Reuben Martens, KU Leuven, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Jeff Diamanti, University of Amsterdam This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Brent Ryan Bellamy, Trent University This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.