CFP: In/Out: Forms of Space in Science Fiction

The Fifth International Symposium on the Poetics of Science Fiction
Department of English and American Studies, Tel-Aviv University
March 18 - 19, 2018
Stichtag: 30.09.2017

Science fiction is inseparable from the idea of space – “the final frontier”, as Star Trek defined it for the general audience. From its very inception in the works of H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, H. Rider Haggard and other 19th-century writers, SF has been concerned with exploring, mapping and conquering geographical and physical spaces. However, outer space is but one of the many continua the genre has ventured into. With the rise of cyberpunk in the 1990s, cyberspace has joined the iconic settings of SF, soon followed by virtual spaces, dream-spaces, unknown planets, parallel Earths, and utopian or dystopian communities of the future.

Narrative and cultural theories have recently experienced a “spatial turn”, as expressed by a rapidly-growing flood of scholarly articles and monographs concerned with representation of space. Grounded in the pioneering work of Henri Lefebvre and Fredric Jameson, titles such as Stephen Kern’s The Culture of Time and Space (2003), Ryan, Foote, and Azaryahu’s collaboration Narrating Space/Spatializing Narrative (2016) and many others have come to epitomize the importance of space in the humanities. But despite the problematic of space receiving critical attention, the spatial poetics of SF has remained relatively under-theorized.

Our conference, the fifth in the annual series of SF symposia at Tel-Aviv University, seeks to address the cultural, historical, and narrative problematic of the representation of space in SF. We intend to go beyond the obvious nexus of SF and space exploration, and consider other aspects of spatiality in the genre such as virtual and cyber-spaces; psychological (inner) spaces; space as an active agent in the text; utopian/dystopian spaces; SF and urbanism; and the phenomenology of “impossible” or “unnatural” spaces. Topics can include, but are not limited to:

  • Space as the dominant aspect of the genre’s chronotope (in Bakhtin’s sense of the word)
  • The interrelation between physical and virtual spaces
  • Space as history (parallel universes, alternate Earths)
  • Inner/outer spaces
  • Space as utopia/dystopia
  • Apocalyptic spaces and the “end of history”
  • The difference between spaces of SF and of fantasy
  • Cyberpunk and spaces of the past
  • Postcolonialism and conquest of space
  • Poetics of “impossible” spaces
  • SF and the city

Proposals of up to 300 words and short CVs are to be submitted to and by September 30, 2017. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by the end of October 2017.
Select participants may be invited to join a follow-up publication to Science Fiction Beyond Borders, eds. Shawn Edrei and Danielle Gurevitch (Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2016).
Contact Info: Proposals of up to 300 words and short CVs are to be submitted to and by September 30, 2017.
Contact Email:

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