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Call for Papers: Student Conference "Exploring Alterity in Fantasy and Science Fiction"

Fantastic Beasts, Monstrous Cyborgs, Aliens and Other Spectres:

Exploring Alterity in Fantasy and Science Fiction

Student Conference, October 19–20, 2018
English Department, University of Freiburg



Alterity describes "the quality of strangeness inherent in the Other”. Critical theorists have described popular culture itself as an Other that is always defined against other definitions of “culture” and “popular”. We are currently witnessing a proliferation of science fiction and fantasy in popular culture, and these genres present us with many representations of alterity. Both construct elaborate alternative worlds in which encounters between human characters and sentient nonhuman Others call into question the nature of the human and, with it, the boundaries between Self and Other. They throw into relief what we consider as Other and provide new models for encountering alterity outside of fiction in the ‘real’ world.

This conference aims to address the representation of alterity in fantasy and science fiction, its impact on cultural practices and its subversive potential. We are interested in the role of form, medium and (sub)genre in negotiations of alterity. We welcome papers analyzing popular culture texts from diverse cultural contexts. Please note that the language of the conference is English.

Potential discussion topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Different (re)configurations of the Other (racialized and gendered Others, cyborgs, fantastic creatures, animal Others, etc.)
  • Socio-historical perspectives on alterity (reconfigurations of the notion of the subaltern, the uncanny, etc.)
  • Fictional representations of liminal or hybrid identities
  • The influence of philosophy, ethics, science or anthropology (amongst others) on science fiction and fantasy
  • Negotiations of Otherness in different media (e.g. TV, film, podcasts, computer games, web series, music, transformative works, art, literature, etc.)
  • The political impact of ethical representations of alterity


This student conference is organized by Julia Ditter and Anne Korfmacher, master's students of British and North American Cultural Studies at the University of Freiburg, Germany. If you are a student (B.A., M.A. or Ph.D. level) and interested in presenting a 20-minute paper at our conference, please submit a short proposal (around 200–250 words) as well as a short biography (including your current program of study) to by July 15, 2018. There is no conference fee to be paid and technical equipment for the presentation will be provided. Conference participants will be responsible for organizing and paying for their own accommodation and food.

Read the full call for papers here.

Find out more about the conference on its website or Facebook page.

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