20/20 Vision: Speculating in Literature and Film in Canada is a three-day international conference to be held at the University of Saskatchewan in August 2020. The conference aims to gather together scholars, authors, and members of the public who are interested in speculative writing in Canada. Works of this genre have provocative implications that challenge conventional visions of reality by alluding to future possible worlds. Despite their focus on the future, speculative works comment on the present and the past. They ask readers to consider environmental, technological, and political events and developments in the world today, and the impacts these may have on the world of the future. Speculative writing has proliferated in past decades, used by authors to represent and report on important societal concerns, such as relations of class, gender, and race, as well as issues of environmental destruction and political conflict.
In the Canadian context, speculative writing has become a powerful tool to interrogate patriarchal-colonial enterprises. Marginalized groups, including women, Indigenous peoples, members of LGBTQ2S+ communities, and others whose lives are inflected by cultural difference, use works of speculation to resignify a past marked by oppression, attest their identities, and create spaces of resistance and social change. The conference will invite keynote speakers who can provoke discussion in these areas and help to strengthen the presence of diverse voices and emerging literary communities.
Speculative worlds have achieved popularity through media representations such as movies, television/internet series, and video games, some of which are adaptations of textual works. Conference organizers expect that participants will present their research on speculation in these media/genres as well as in published writings.
There will be space at the conference for writers of speculative genres to present their work to the public, at an open event on Thursday evening, and we hope to organize workshops on aspects of speculative writing, for practitioners of the genre.
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. The collection will highlight the material accomplishment of the conference goals, which are to expand discussion and visibility of this literary genre, so significant for the contemporary era in which we live.
The conference is organized by members of the Department of English at the University of Saskatchewan. The organizing committee includes faculty and graduate researchers of speculative fiction and practitioners based in our MFA in Writing graduate program. For more information see https://artsandscience.usask.ca/english/.
The conference is supported financially by 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
20/20 Vision: Speculating in Literature and Film in Canada
August 20-22, 2020
University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada
Speculative fiction, film, and television series are fast-growing genres, in part because they comment on the present. These genres ask readers to consider environmental, 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, report, and speculate on key societal issues, such as relations of class, gender, and race, as well as issues of 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, to assert their identities and create avenues for resistance. A variety of speculative worlds have achieved popularity through films and television/internet series, some of which are literary adaptations. 20/20 Vision: Speculating in Literature and Film in Canada invites researchers and creators in the year 2020 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 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:
- Dystopian worlds
- Utopian and anti-utopian worlds
- Apocalyptic scenarios
- Post-apocalyptic futures
- Feminist speculations
- Indigenous speculations
- Decolonizing speculations
- Speculative writing for children
- Speculative poetry
- Climate change and/or technological developments
- Animals in speculative writing
- Speculations on language and power
- Disability in speculative writing
- Gender and sexuality in speculative writing
- Speculation and interdisciplinarity
- Speculations on the screen: movies, documentaries, television and internet series, video games
- Speculative adaptations
- Speculative creation, including the writing of speculative fiction*
*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 instalments, performance pieces, or film presentations.
Paper proposals should include the following:
- Your name, contact information (including email address and telephone number), and institutional affiliation.
- 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.
- 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 email@example.com by March 2, 2020.
Conference acceptances will be emailed in April, 2020. For further information, please visit the website or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
After the conference, there will be an open call for expanded papers to be published in a collection of essays on speculations in literature and on screen in Canada.
We are delighted to announce that the featured speakers for 20/20 Vision: Speculating in Literature and Film in Canada are Cherie Dimaline and Wayde Compton.
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 2020.
Details to come!
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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 practioner of speculative writing. The main goals of our conference are the expansion of discussion of this literary genre and its visibility not only among researchers, but also anyone who is interested in reading, watching, and creating it.
The call for papers for the collection will be posted here after the conference.