Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Announcing American Literature 83.2: ‘Speculative Fictions’!

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Very exciting news: the special issue of American Literature I co-edited with Priscilla Wald is up and available for purchase or download (through subscribing institutions). Here’s a little bit from our preface and a table of contents:

In this sense SF holds within itself the restless curiosity and relentless drive toward futurity that has characterized theory ever since Karl Marx dedicated his project to “the ruthless criticism of all that exists, ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be.” Thus has Freedman suggested that SF and critical theory are “each . . . version[s] of the other.” Or, as Ray Bradbury puts it: “That’s all science fiction was ever about. Hating the way things are, wanting to make things different.” Or Le Guin, writing of the Stalinists’ designation of Zamyatin as an “internal émigré”: “This smear-word is a precise and noble description of the finest writers of SF, in all countries.” The equivalent term in the United States, she notes, would be “un-Americanism”—transmogrifying the title of this journal, for this special issue, to something like Un-American Non-Literature. There could be worse things!

…In a world whose basic coordinates are under constant flux from eruptions of ecological crisis to the emergence of genomic science, from the global realignments of religious fundamentalism to the changing parameters of liberation theology, from the ongoing unfoldings of antiracist activisms worldwide to the struggle for LGBTQ rights, the estrangements of SF in all its forms, flavors, and subgenres become for us a funhouse mirror on the present, a faded map of the future, a barely glimpsed vision of alterity, and the prepped and ready launchpad for theory today.

Here then are seven estrangements; seven émigrés; seven ruthless criticisms of all that exists; seven ways to make things different.

Table of Contents

* Mark Chia-Yon Jerng, “A World of Difference: Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren and the Protocols of Racial Reading”
* Nathaniel Williams, “Frank Reade, Jr., in Cuba: Dime-Novel Technology, U.S. Imperialism, and the ‘American Jules Verne'”
* Aaron Bady, “Tarzan’s White Flights: Terrorism and Fantasy before and after the Airplane”
* David M. Higgins, “Toward a Cosmopolitan Science Fiction”
* Ramzi Fawaz, “‘Where No X-Man Has Gone Before!’ Mutant Superheroes and the Cultural Politics of Popular Fantasy in Postwar America”
* Robert F. Reid-Pharr, “Clean: Death and Desire in Samuel R. Delany’s Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand
* Everett Hamner, “The Predisposed Agency of Genomic Fiction”

One Response

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  1. […] case you missed it Friday afternoon: the special issue of American Literature I co-edited on “Speculative Fictions” is now […]

    AL:SF « Gerry Canavan

    June 13, 2011 at 12:30 pm


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