CAAS 2017 CFP: “Uncertain Futures”

Uncertain Futures is an interdisciplinary conference hosted by OCAD University and the Canadian Association for American Studies. It will take place at OCAD University, in downtown Toronto, from October 27th to 29th, 2017.

In her introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin writes that “the future, in fiction, is a metaphor.” In uncertain times, we look to the future as a blank screen for projecting our anxieties about the fraught present and unresolved past. Our fantasies about the future reveal the ideological constructs of our contemporary moment. “Science fiction is not predictive,” Le Guin writes. “It is descriptive.”

What does the future look like for Americans and observers of American culture in the 21st century? How have past Americans used the future to address lingering uncertainties about their own eras? In an age of fractured politics, environmental devastation, neoliberal innovation, and deadly imperialism, what hope can the future hold? And what can American Studies hope to teach us about the role of uncertainty and futurity in our daily lives?

We invite proposals for papers and other presentations on the topic of “Uncertain Futures.” We welcome approaches to this theme from all disciplines, fields, and historical periods. Papers on other topics relevant to American Studies will also be considered.

To participate, submit abstracts of 300 words to CAASfutures@gmail.com by March 15th, 2017. Please include a brief bio and five (5) keywords. Panel submissions and other presentation formats will be considered, but an abstract, bio, and keywords are required for each conference participant. Questions about the conference, or about submitting a proposal, can be sent to the lead conference organizer, Ross Bullen (OCAD University): rbullen@faculty.ocadu.ca.

Topics and themes might include (but are not limited to):

  • Manifest destiny, the frontier thesis, and other imperial futures.
  • Canada’s 150th anniversary and narratives of North American nationalism
  • Reproductive futurism
  • Living in Donald Trump’s America
  • Queer futures
  • Cruel optimism and the false promise of the future
  • Afrofuturisms
  • The Anthropocene
  • Extinction
  • 7 billion by 2050 / global population anxiety
  • Climate migrants
  • The future of global citizenship
  • The future of energy
  • Science fiction and speculative fiction
  • Utopias and dystopias
  • The future of literacy / the future of literary form
  • The history of the future
  • The temporality of representations
  • Accelerationism, nihilism, and utopia
  • The singularity (and its gender politics)
  • Back to the future: futurism and primitivism
  • Digital futures
  • The future of money
  • Indigenous futures
  • The racialization of futurity
  • Critiques of linear temporality
  • The future of the university

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