SFFTV Special Issue CFP: Global Utopian Film and TV in the Age of Dystopia

Global Utopian Film and TV in the Age of Dystopia
A special issue of Science Fiction Film and Television

Edited by
Leimar Garcia-Siino
Sean Guynes

Global Utopian Film and TV in the Age of Dystopia, a special issue of Science Fiction Film and Television (SFFTV), seeks essays that confront a pressing problem at the intersection of media and utopian studies. As early as 1982, Polish philosopher Leszek Kołakowski contended that utopian writers and thinkers had “lost both the intellectual support and their previous self-confidence and vigor,” pronouncing that “one can hardly quote an important utopia written in our epoch.”. Three decades later, sociologist and utopian theorist Krishan Kumar concludes that “the unwillingness to essay the literary utopia suggests a distinct lack of confidence in its capacity to be effective, as well as a failure of the utopian imagination.” Kumar follows other historians of utopia in pinpointing the “social conflicts of the 1960s in Western industrial societies,” including the Hungarian and Czech suppressions in 1959 and 1968, the “May Events” in Paris in 1968, and the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 as key events in the retreat of utopia from narrative and theory. Unsurprisingly, this period coincided with the emergence of both neoliberalism and globalization, and witnessed the explosion of dystopian media to bestseller and blockbuster status.

But as this special issue of SFFTV will make clear, the utopian ideal is neither exclusive to literature nor to the west. Essays in Rajagopal and Rao’s Media and Utopia (2016), for example, chart some of the trajectories of global utopian film, but even here there is scant attention to utopian film and TV in the wake of the 1970s. If the state of scholarship is any indication, it would seem that the last fifty years has seen a palpable decline in the production of utopian texts in favor of bleaker, dystopian tales. And yet, it is with the increase of a globalized media and the advent of social media, as well as the increase in both the pursuit of nostalgia and the desire to escape/prevent the various incoming ecological, political, and social global crises, that the past fifty years of film and television have given rise to more nuanced and critical elaborations of utopia, often in the form of political thinking.

While significant attention has been awarded to western utopian literature, and to a lesser extent Anglophone utopian film and television, little attention has been dedicated to the utopian currents of wider global film and television post-1968. Global Utopian Film and TV in the Age of Dystopia seeks papers that address this lacuna and ask whether utopia is dead or merely transformed, and if so into what. We seek articles that provide insight, criticism, and clarity to the issue of global utopian sf film and TV since the 1970s. Collectively, the essays in this special issue will begin to map the utopian mediascape of the supposedly all-dystopian era. We are particularly interested in articles whose textual analyses emphases the following topics and subjects:

  • feminism and gender studies
  • post- and decolonialism
  • ecocriticism and the Anthropocene
  • Afro-, Latinx-, and indigenous futurisms
  • techno-orientalism
  • queer futurities
  • globalization and neoliberalism
  • (ethno)nationalism
  • global rise of the extreme Right
  • production and circulation, esp. outside of Hollywood

Successful contributions will emphasize film and TV from or about:

  • Africa
  • Mexico, Central, and South America
  • the Middle East
  • East, South(east), and Central Asia
  • Oceania and the Pacific Islands
  • the (post-)Soviet world
  • subaltern populations in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand

Submissions should steer clear of well-trod films, TV, and especially global media franchises (like Star Trek), except where particularly novel arguments can be made about the relationship of these well-known texts (in Anglophone scholarship) to utopian narrative, form, and desire in the era of dystopian media.

Translations of articles previously published in a language other than English, and that fit the topic and concerns of the special issue, are also encouraged. The translators will be required to get proper permissions in order to translate the piece, and a sample of the translation may be requested by the special issue editors.

Please send proposal of c. 250 words and a brief bio to the special issue editors, Leimar Garcia-Siino (leimar.garcia.siino@gmail.com) and Sean Guynes (guynesse@msu.edu), by April 1, 2019. Drafts of selected articles will be due by August 15, 2019.  

If you have any questions about the fit of a topic for the special issue, please feel free to contact the special issue editors.

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