Call for Papers: Academic Track at the 76th World Science Fiction Convention


Science fiction always plays a part in recreating our world and directing civilization's progress. While much SF takes place in a hypothetical "future," the entire body of speculative literature influences and interacts with our world—suggesting potentialities, solutions, organizational methods, alternative cultures, and paths to follow or avoid. In that spirit, the 76th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in San José, California has chosen "Make the Future" for its overarching theme.

The Academic Track Committee welcomes proposals for scholarly presentations, especially those that study content tied to our "Make the Future" convention theme, such as the following examples:

  • Any and all utopian or futurist novels, short stories, comic books, or other media
  • Classic SF works that changed the direction of their era
  • Dystopian novels, comic books, and other media that portray catastrophic scenarios to prevent them from happening in reality (1984, The Handmaid's Tale, The Water Knife, Bitch Planet, etc.)
  • SF groups as progressive communities ("slan shacks," writers' colonies, online communities, etc.)
  • Ties between SF literature and socio-political movements
  • Ties between maker culture and science fiction, including DIY art and music, steampunk, deiselpunk, and any other design aesthetics 
  • Major movements in the SF genre's history

Additionally, we are interested in proposals incorporating Worldcon visiting authors, timely content, or regional interest (such as California/Western authors or settings). Such topics might include:

  • Guests of Honor Spider Robinson and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, or Ghost of Honor Edgar Pangborn
  • Other authors planning to attend Worldcon 76
  • Silicon Valley in SF
  • Science fiction in Wild West dime novels and pulps
  • Mill Valley and San Francisco in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (book and/or films)
  • Philip K. Dick's writing during his years living in Point Reyes Station
  • Kim Stanley Robinson's "Three Californias" trilogy and related works
  • Mary Shelley's Frankenstein at its 200th anniversary

As part of Worldcon programming, academic-track audiences often include a blend of scholars, writers, artists, readers, and fans. Presentations should be academically rigorous, but also accessible to a wide variety of interests and backgrounds. We welcome papers from scholars at all stages of their research careers, including advanced undergraduate students and independent scholars. Panels or roundtables that include SF creators (writers, directors, game designers, etc.) are highly encouraged as well.

In many ways, Worldcon's academic track offers an ideal opportunity for scholars to reach audiences they might not see at exclusively academic conferences.

The committee is seeking three kinds of proposals:

  • Paper – one 20-minute long presentation
  • Panel – a group of 3 to 4 related presentations of 15- to 20-minute length each
  • Roundtable – a group of speakers on a specific topic moderated by one individual for an hour plus question/answer period

For more information about submitting a proposal, please see this PDF of the complete submission guidelines

Academic Track Award: Heinlein Society
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