Religious Futurisms collection CFP

We are pleased to announce a call for papers for a forthcoming collection of essays on the broad topic of Religious Futurisms, to be edited by Sumeyra Buran Utku and Jim Clarke.

Information and updates on this project may be found here on Facebook.

Religious Futurisms derives its intellectual inspiration from the emergence of Afrofuturism and other Alternative Futurisms as ideological and analytical frameworks in recent years. Religious Futurisms can manifest as ideology, criticality, prophecy, futurology, philosophy or artistic practice. They may be discerned in a wide range of forms, ranging from speculative theology to performative videogame interaction to abstract or polysemous imagery in visual art.

Fundamentally global and interdisciplinary in nature, Religious Futurisms encompass not only attempts within theology to reframe and examine faith-based futures, but also the lengthy tradition of revelatory knowledge forms as theme and mode within speculative fiction and other texts and formats of speculative artistic expression, such as film, television, music, gaming, comics, graphic novels, visual and conceptual art, theatre and poetry.

Faith-related themes and narratives have proliferated in speculative fiction since its earliest manifestations, and feature heavily in some of SF’s most popular and influential texts, such as Dune, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. However, Marxist and materialist modes of academic critical analysis have tended to shy away from addressing Religious Futurisms. This volume of essays seeks to address that gap in scholarship.

In this first attempt to codify and taxonomise the various strands and manifestations of Religious Futurism, the editors invite abstracts for essays which address any of the following topics:

  • Futurological approaches to existing terrestrial religions in artistic expression.
  • Futuristic approaches to theology.
  • The depiction of religion or faith in speculative artforms.
  • The intersection of Religious Futurism with other Futurisms, such as Afrofuturism, Sinofuturism, Chicanofuturism and so on.
  • The intersection of Religious Futurism with other emancipatory ideological modes of analysis, such as gender studies, queer studies, critical race theory, disability studies, etc.
  • Religious futurism and utopia or dystopia.
  • Posthumanism or Transhumanism and Religious Futurism.
  • Cyberpunk and Religious Futurism.
  • Islamofuturisms, Sufi Futurism, and their relationships with Gulf Futurisms.
  • Judeofuturisms.
  • Futurisms of Christianity.
  • Futurisms of religions of sub-continental origin – Hindufuturism, Buddhist futurism, Sikh futurism, etc.
  • Religious Sinofuturism and other East Asian religious futurisms, such as Taoist Futurism and Confucian Futurism.
  • Religious Futurism in Techno-Orientalism.
  • Indigenous belief futurisms and Shamanic futurisms.
  • Mystical, Esoteric and Mythic Futurisms which relate to religious belief.
  • The depiction, reception, repurposing or Alienating (attributing to aliens) of antiquated or ancient faith systems (Egyptian, Sumerian, Mesopotamian, Nordic, Greco-Roman, Animist, etc) in futuristic cultural works.
  • Invented religions and theology in speculative fiction and speculative artforms.
  • The development of real-world faith practices out of speculative fiction and other speculative artistic genres, for example Jediism.
  • Conceptualisations of Alien or Artificial Intelligence revelatory practices, faiths and religions.
  • Messianics, Apocalypse, Rapture, Chiliasm, Millenarism, or other faith future endpoints in speculative artforms and fiction.
  • Speculative religious cosmology and cosmogony.
  • Speculative exegetical forms, such as Philip K. Dick’s VALIS, or Erich Von Däniken’s paleo-contact Biblical hypotheses.
  • Conversion, proselytising and dogma in religious futurisms.

Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words, accompanied by a 100 word bio and affiliation by December 1st 2021. We aim to inform successful contributors by January 31st 2022, and completed drafts of 5,000 – 7,500 words will be required by May 31st 2022.

Abstracts should be emailed to:

Academic Conference Appearances are like Late Night Buses

In that they offer uncomfortable seating and there’s usually some guy ranting incoherently while everyone else avoids eye contact.

Also, you wait ages for one and then a whole bunch arrive at once.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, relating primarily to parenthood, emigration and writing commitments, I’d not actually been to a conference in over a year, until I was invited to take part in this excellent one-day event on Literature, Cultural Studies, and Translation. It was my first conference held in Cyberspace, so I finally got to experience the Zoom fatigue everyone else has been complaining about for 18 months.

Speaking on Nadsat in translation alongside Benet Vincent.

Anyhow, it was an excellent, eclectic and engaging experience, for which I must thank the organisers at Cappadocia University. And it has spurred me into action to do a few more. Often, one thing which precluded attending conferences was the same reason which rendered them appealing – that you had to visit a different location. The upside to Zoom-fatigue conferencing is the same as the downside – it can and will be done from one’s back bedroom. So, newly emboldened, I’ve re-engaged on the conference circuit and have a few abstracts accepted already for the forthcoming year, primarily on religious futurism topics.

Next up is an especially busy conference, as I’ll be presenting not one but two papers in two days. I’d link to SFRA 2021, except you have to be a member and pay to attend. If that is you, then please pop in to listen to my papers. I hope you find them interesting.

I’ve already mentioned the first paper here, which will examine Israel in Alt-History. The other relates to my long-running SF and Buddhism project and takes us up to the Sixties:

There is, of course, four days worth of exceptional SF research, not to mention roundtables, keynotes and discussion. If you’re not an SFRA member, you should definitely consider joining and (virtually) coming along to the conference. There are too many papers I’m looking forward to hearing (childminding permitting) but most of all I’m excited about my fellow panel members. I’m on two amazing panels, one on Israel and Palestine in SF and one on religious futurisms.

We might even have a little announcement to make too. More of that after the event.

The Chymical Wedding of Samuel Beckett

There is to be an odd little celebration this month, in Folkestone of all places, to commemorate its visitation by, and subsequent nuptials therein of, Samuel Beckett.

Beckett married his long-term partner, as we now know due to a series of excellent biographies, in curious circumstances. He was embroiled in a serious relationship with a BBC producer at the time.

Samuel Beckett with his wife Suzanne Déchevaux-Dumesnil. | Samuel beckett,  Playwright, Samuel
Beckett with Mme Beckett

Ostensibly, marrying Suzanne Déchevaux-Dumesnil in March 1961 was intended to achieve the aim of ensuring her inheritance of his copyrights. As it happened, she ended up dying about six months before him, in 1989.

The curiosity pertains to Beckett’s decision to marry after nearly three decades of relationship, at the very moment when he was most involved in a separate relationship with an entirely different woman.

The organisers of the festival in Folkestone aim to give voice to those surrounding the events of the marriage, including the perspective of a journalist thrown off the scent, and a witness to the wedding itself.

It’s fun, original and embedded theatre, doing what theatre can do best, which is dramatise our stories back to ourselves. Samuel Beckett’s mysterious marriage took place in Folkestone, and it is great that they can now include this odd intrusion from the world of absurdist theatre and continenal intellectuals as one of their own stories, for it is that too.