Chicon 8’s Academic Program will pull together a diverse set of scholars from the humanities, social sciences, and adjacent disciplines to launch an exploration of SF/F/H’s fascination with the new, different, unusual, and wondrous. Through a combination of presentations and panel discussions with scholars, we’ll discuss the themes of exploration and the novum as they manifest in genre today (and comparisons to the past) with an eye toward contemporary works of film, literature, comics, and art and/or the fan communities which celebrate them.
Chicon 8/Worldcon 80 Academic Track Call for Papers
Science fiction (and its cousin genres, fantasy and horror) have long explored what it means to explore the unknown. In particular, some of SF’s familiar narratives have pondered life beyond our world, grappled with the vast expanse of the universe and the many things to be discovered there, and tackled complicated meetings with other beings and other ways of life. Beyond the SF bubble, fantasy has imagined entire worlds and wondered at a cosmos of gods and magic; meanwhile, horror has teased at the edges of its genre cousins, offering disturbing visions of space and other forms of travel and exploration in which the unknown is often waiting with jaws wide open. These are some of the things we can imagine when considering Chicon 8: The 80th World Science Fiction Convention’s theme: “Take to the Stars.”
Chicon’s Academic Track Committee welcomes proposals for scholarly presentations* about genre fiction in its myriad forms**, with particular interest in those which address our convention theme, “Take to the Stars,” which may include some of the following topics (this is not an exhaustive list):
- Themes of exploration and discovery, particularly interpretations of space and sea travel, discovery as a metaphysical and/or psychological concept, the ties between genre fiction and historical or scientific discovery, and other intersections
- New encounters, cultural clashes and resolutions, alien first encounters, and other types of encounters beyond the known
- Seeking new ideas and solutions to imagined or real issues, including (but not limited to) utopian and radical political perspectives on climate change, challenges to hegemonic power structures such as contemporary empires, and visions of decolonization or other ways of structure societies
- Ties between genre fiction and community building and expansion, whether regional, global, in zines or blogs, online or in in-person spaces, and other iterations
Additionally, we also want to see proposals—theme-specific or otherwise—in some of the following categories:
- Regional interest, including representations of Chicago in genre fiction, Chicago-area creators, the influence of the Jazz Age on genre, and Chicago fandom
- Afrofuturism, Africanfuturism, and related futurisms and movements
- Non-U.S. and non-Eurocentric genre fiction, including works in English and in translation
- Work by Guests of Honor and by attending authors
While we appreciate the classics of the genre, our goal will be to highlight lesser known works or to place the classics in conversation with newer works. We view genre as a constantly evolving entity, and we would like to see this reflected in scholarship.
Finally, we are also interested in proposals for roundtable discussions on subjects relevant to scholars, teachers, and related individuals. These roundtables will share knowledge with (especially emerging) scholars and educators, and they might address teaching methods across the humanities disciplines, tools for scholarly research, applying research to education, editing scholarly work, or open dialogues on specific SF/F/H topics of particular interested to the broad field of scholarship.
The deadline for submissions is Friday, April 29, 2022 at 11:59 P.M. Pacific Time.
The Academic Track Committee will accept proposals for the following formats:
- Individual Presentations
A 15-minute presentation (these will be grouped into 3-presentation panels by the academic committee)
- Group Presentations
A group of 3 presentations linked together by content, topic, etc. Presentations should be no longer than 15-minutes each. Please provide contact information for all participants with your submission.
- Panels or Roundtables
Discussions among 3-5 scholars on subjects relevant to the academic track. These should be conversational and informative events similar to a traditional convention panel. You may propose a panel you’d like to see OR a panel with the lineup and topic fully established.
All scholars are welcome to submit, whether formally affiliated with a university or operating as an independent. We also strongly encourage BIPOC and other scholars from minority backgrounds to submit, including scholars outside of the U.S.
Chicon 8’s Academic Track will run programming items through all five days of the event (Sept. 1-5) and will include virtual items to help make scholarship accessible to virtual participants and international scholars and students who wish to be part of the conversation. We look forward to hearing your presentation ideas!
To submit, please provide proposals, bios, and other relevant details using the application form.
*By “presentation” we mean talks, ideally with visual support, rather than readings of academic work. Presentations should also be geared towards a general audience, as Worldcon attendees come from a myriad of academic and non-academic backgrounds.
**Proposals may address any genre media or genre-related content, including but not limited to fiction, poetry, film and television, comics and graphic novels, plays, fandom, genre history, and so on.