Conference Details

20/21 Vision: Speculating in Literature and Film in Canada is a three-day international conference to be held at the University of Saskatchewan in August 2021 (postponed from 2020 because of the global pandemic). The conference will gather together scholars, authors, and members of the public who are interested in speculative writing in Canada. If we are still unable to meet in person at this time, the conference will be converted to an online format.

In the wake of a global pandemic, the ways that speculative fiction and film comment not just on the future but also on the present have become acutely evident. Conference participants will present their research on speculations in published writings, as well as in movies, television/internet series, and video games. There will also be space at the conference for writers of speculative genres to present their work to the public, as well as workshops on aspects of speculative writing for practitioners. Through these means, the conference aims to strengthen the presence of diverse voices and emerging literary communities.

Following the conference, there will be a call for contributors to submit papers that expand on or respond to conference presentations and discussions, for publication in an essay collection. Featured in that collection will be an interview with the conference’s keynote practitioner of speculative writing, Cherie Dimaline.

The conference is organized by members of the Department of English at the University of Saskatchewan; for more information see Financial support is provided by the Connection Program of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the University of Saskatchewan Conference Fund, the College of Arts and Science, the Indigenous Fellowship program, the Role Model Speakers’ Fund, and the Departments of English, Indigenous Studies, Drama, and Art and Art History.

Call for Proposals

20/21 Vision: Speculating in Literature and Film in Canada

August 19-21, 2021
University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada

NOTE: This is an extended call for papers, directed to participants other than those who were previously accepted to the 2020 conference. 

In the wake of a global pandemic, the ways that speculative fiction, film, and television series comment on the present as well as the future have become acutely evident. These genres ask readers to consider environmental, health, technological, and political events and developments in the world today, and the impacts these may have on the world of the future. They are often used by their creators to represent and speculate on key societal issues, such as relations of class, gender, and race, as well as issues of health safety, environmental destruction, and political conflict. In Canada, speculative writing has become a tool to interrogate colonial enterprises and open up spaces for marginalized groups, including women, Indigenous peoples, members of LGBTQ2S+ communities, and others whose lives are inflected by cultural difference. A variety of speculative worlds have achieved popularity through films and television/internet series, some of which are adapted from other genres.

20/21 Vision: Speculating in Literature and Film in Canada invites researchers and creators to present their own speculations about the futures and/or societies that are presented in various texts produced in or relating to Canada. What do speculative texts tell us? Which visions of “Canada” do we find in speculative texts? How do these visions reflect our own perceptions of the world? Does this kind of literary imagination help us respond to crises or achieve social change? 

Proposals for both papers and panels are invited. These can take a range of approaches related to speculative writing in Canada, including: 

  • Speculations on global pandemics and other health crises
  • Environmental and/or technological changes and developments in speculative writing
  • Speculations on language and power
  • Indigenous and decolonizing speculations
  • Gender and sexuality in speculative writing
  • Disability in speculative writing
  • Speculative writing for children
  • Speculative poetry
  • Speculation and interdisciplinarity
  • Dystopian, utopian, and anti-utopian worlds
  • Apocalyptic scenarios and post-apocalyptic futures
  • Speculations on the screen: movies, documentaries, television and internet series, video games
  • Speculative adaptations
  • Speculative creations, including short works of speculative fiction or poetry* 

*The conference will also host sessions in which creators of speculative genres will be invited to present their works. Authors and artists are invited to propose 20-minute creative pieces; these may involve readings from written works, visual installations, performance pieces, or film presentations. 

Paper proposals should include the following:

  1. Your name, contact information (including email address and telephone number), and institutional affiliation.
  2. The title of your proposed 20-minute paper or presentation, AND a proposal of 250-300 words, identifying the works that will be your focus of your paper and outlining the argument to be presented OR describing your creative piece and the method of presentation or performance.
  3. A 50-word biographical statement. 

Panel proposals should include the above information for all participants. 

Please e-mail your proposal in a Word document to conference organizers Wendy Roy and Mabiana Camargo of the University of Saskatchewan at by January 18, 2021 (extended deadline). 

Additional conference acceptances will be emailed in March, 2021. For further information, please visit the website or send an email to

Conference Program

We are delighted that the featured speakers for our 2020 conference have confirmed that they will present during our new dates of August 19-21, 2021.

Keynote presenter Cherie Dimaline is a member of the Georgian Bay Métis Community in Ontario who now lives and works in Vancouver. Dimaline’s bestselling speculative novel, The Marrow Thieves (2017), won several prizes, including the Governor General’s award for young people’s literature. The Marrow Thieves focuses on a young Métis protagonist and his created “family” in a near-future dystopian Canada. The novel reimagines Canadian Residential Schools as part of a terrifying future in which Indigenous peoples are hunted so that their dreams can be harvested. Dimaline’s fifth novel, Empire of Wild, was published in 2019. She is currently working on the television adaptation of The Marrow Thieves and on her next young adult novel, a sequel to The Marrow Thieves

The second featured speaker, Wayde Compton, is a Canadian poet and writer of fiction whose speculative story collection The Outer Harbour (2014) won the City of Vancouver Book Award, with one of the collection’s stories garnering a National Magazine Award. Compton’s book includes innovative use of visual elements as part of a narrative that revisits ideas of colonization and incarceration, related both to Indigenous peoples and to immigrants to Canada. Compton has conducted historical work on Vancouver's black community and is the author of five books of poetry, essays, and fiction, including his recent graphic novel, The Blue Road: A Fable of Migration (2019). He teaches Creative Writing at Douglas College in Vancouver. 

We expect a dynamic dialogue between Dimaline and Compton on speculative writing not just as cultural form but as tool for social and political change.  

Further details about the conference program will be posted in spring 2021.



Details to come!

Plan your trip

20/21 Vision and COVID-19

As part of our commitment to providing a healthy and safe space for conference participants, we are monitoring advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada regarding the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Please see for the University of Saskatchewan’s response to COVID-19, as well as for advice on how to help prevent the spread of illness

What to do in Saskatoon

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Contribute to our collection

Following the conference, contributors will be invited to submit expanded versions of their papers for publication in an essay collection. The works that best represent the conference’s guidelines and discussions will be published in the collection, which will also feature an interview with the conference’s keynote practitioner of speculative writing.