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Call for Papers: Corroding the Now

Call for Papers: “Corroding the Now: Poetry + Science|SF”

Conference. Bloomsbury, London. April 12-13, 2019.

The world we inhabit is framed, driven, (re)produced, and conceptualised by and through science. Science as a mode of knowing contours the prevailing episteme, whilst technological innovation continues to remake work and leisure experience. At the same time, society is both reflected and in turn formed by science fiction (SF): as contributor to the nostalgia economy, as a dominant visual-commercial aesthetic, as a mimetic index of the present’s utopian and dystopian tendencies. The now is a time of extreme precarity. We face a raft of catastrophes – political, socioeconomic, and, most pressingly, ecological. And yet, even as our own survival comes into question, capitalism itself seems unassailable, primed to outlast ‘humanity.’

Poetry, perhaps, offers a mode of thinking and writing outside of what we already know. Although in many instances relegated to the status of niche hobby or confined to the manufactured radical space of the academy, it contains the possibility of genuine alterity: correction, articulation, derangement, experiment. This conference proposes to investigate the web formed between poetry, science, and SF. Each of these is both implicated in the now and also potential disruption of it. Our technomodern reality is shaped by scientific reason and innovation, yet at the same time predicated on the uneven distribution of knowledge and technology. SF risks critical impotence given its tendency to rearticulate a world which already resembles a futuristic dystopia. An insufficiently corrosive poetics slides into irrelevance.

Rather than seeking to reclaim each of these modes, this conference proposes an intensification of the chaos and energy formed by their interconnection. Its goal is open process; speculative poetics as a mode of thinking, a technique, a creative reading (and writing) strategy, a hack: science, SF, and innovative poetry.

Possible topics and area of enquiry include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Speculation. How will the poetry of the immediate future address the concerns and ideas of science and SF? What new, unknown poetries can we produce, create, or conceptualise?
  • Praxis. What critical, creative or activist possibilities are opened up by the act of writing, reading, or performing such poetries? How can we bring theoretical and hermeneutic reactions to such texts to bear upon material reality?
  • Minute Particulars. Where and how do science and/or SF appear in contemporary poetics? Is there a difference between the poetry of science and the poetry of SF? In what other forms of science and SF writing might we find poetry?
  • Landscape. What are the worlds, and ways of worlding, enabled by SF poetry and/or poetry & science? How do these modify our conception of ‘the world,’ or of episteme?
  • Liminals. In what ways do such poetries slide between categories or genres? In what ways do these characteristics modify or question our hermeneutic approaches?
  • The I/Eye. What approaches to selfhood, identity, and (post)human subjectivity arise via speculative poetics? How might questions of race and post-colonialism be addressed through a scientific or SF poetics?
  • Utopia – Heterotopia – Dystopia. To what extent, and in what ways, do intersections of poetry, science, and/or SF seek to correct society’s flaws? What types of community or [X-]topian imagination do they give rise to?
  • Histories. What are the precursor texts and techniques to today’s science and SF poetry and poetics? Are there undervalued oeuvres that might be brought to light today?
  • Derangement. What are the formal and linguistic properties of scientific and/or SF poetry, and how do they differ from those of other poetic modes?
  • World. How might we connect Ecopoetics and/or Zoopoetics with an SF poetics? In what ways does such poetry respond to ecocritical discourses, to Petromodernity and/or the Anthropocene?
  • Things. What conceptions of ontology or phenomena do SF poetry and/or poetry & science explore? What are the things (or thingynesses) of speculative poetics?
  • &c. Space. The Weird. ‘Pataphysics. OuLiPo. Cyborg Poetics. Speculative Realism. Scifaiku. Binary Poetry. Machine-Produced Poetry. Alternate History. &c.

We are interested in academic papers and panels, creative responses, poetry readings and performances. We welcome scholars, poets, critics, scientists, science fiction writers, students, and all others. We are also interested in submissions of A2 size posters featuring critical, creative and other work. These will be on display for the duration of the conference. Poster submissions from PGR students will be given priority over those from other sources. “Corroding the Now” is committed to promoting diversity whenever possible and encourages proposals from people of all backgrounds.

For individual papers, responses, or performances, please send proposals of up to 300 words. For multiple participant formats (e.g. discussion panels, group readings, etc.), proposals may be up to 500 words long. Multiple participant panels or performances that are all-male will not be considered for inclusion in the conference. Posters should be sent in both high res (300+ DPI) jpeg and pdf formats. Both posters and proposals should be accompanied by 50 word participant bios. All submissions should be sent to by 20th January 2019. Applicants will receive a response by 10th February 2019. Inquiries in the meantime should be addressed to

Confirmed conference guests include Alex Goody (Oxford Brookes University), Melinda Gebbie, Allen Fisher, and Iain Sinclair.

“Corroding the Now” is co-hosted by Royal Holloway, University of London, University of Surrey, Birkbeck, University of London, and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, and officially endorsed and supported by technē, HARI, and the Science Fiction Foundation.

The organising committee includes: Francis Gene-Rowe, Dr Stephen Mooney, Dr Richard Parker, Dr Sean O’Brien, Dr Christos Callow Jr., Sarah Kelly, Melissa Addey, Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, Jonathan Taylor, Claudia Davidson, Eleanor March, Yen Ooi, Dr Ahmed Honeini, Professor Adam Roberts, Josephine Taylor.