BSFA Lecture 2016: “Crafting the Future: Ruskin, Textiles and Visions of Futures Past”

Ruskin lectureThe 2016 BSFA Lecture will be delivered by Rachel Dickinson (Manchester Metropolitan University) at Mancunicon, the 2016 Eastercon. She will speak on “Crafting the Future: Ruskin, Textiles and Visions of Futures Past”. It will take place on Saturday 26 March, at 11:30 am in Deansgate 3 at the Hilton Deansgate, Manchester. It is open to any member of Mancunicon. (Please note that Mancunicon is no longer selling memberships, and if you are not a member you may not attend the Lecture.)

The Victorian cultural critic John Ruskin was deeply concerned that unchecked industrialisation and unfettered capitalism would lead to environmental destruction and widespread dehumanisation of individuals. He looked at problems stemming from technological advances going on around him in the Nineteenth Century, then looked to the medieval past in order to speculate alternative paths forward from his present, that might lead to a better, more sustainable future. This lecture focuses on how Ruskin uses the making and wearing of textiles to discuss political economy and to inspire change. It pays particular attention to craft and making, and the way we make and define ourselves through the clothing we wear.

Rachel Dickinson is Principal Lecturer in Research & Knowledge Exchange in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University, at their Cheshire Campus. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Lancaster, and her M.A. at the University of Western Ontario. She is an expert in the work of John Ruskin, and has edited John Ruskin’s Correspondence with Joan Severn: Sense and Nonsense Letters (2009). She is also a fan of manga and anime such as Ghost in the Shell.

The BSFA Lecture is intended as a companion to the George Hay Lecture, which is presented at the Eastercon by the Science Fiction Foundation. Where the Hay Lecture invites scientists, the BSFA Lecture invites academics from the arts and humanities, because we recognise that science fiction fans aren’t only interested in science.  The lecturers are given a remit to speak “on a subject that is likely to be of interest to science fiction fans” – i.e. on whatever they want!  This is the ninth BSFA Lecture.

FREE TALK: What’s New About the Novum?: SF, History, Temporality.

Dr Caroline Edwards

Dr Caroline Edwards

Join Dr Caroline Edwards for the second seminar in the King’s Fantastic Talks Series, at which she will discuss “What’s New About the Novum?: SF, History, Temporality.”

Where: Room K2.40 Kings College London, Strand Campus
Strand, London WC2R 2LS, London
When: 6:30-8:00, Thursday 29th October 2015

Is her own words….

I’ve been invited this Autumn to deliver a lecture as part of a new series, “King’s Fantastic Talks,” organised by Dr Rhys Williams. My lecture will take place on 29th October at King’s College London’s campus and is titled “What’s New About the Novum? SF, History, Temporality.” The talk builds on my research into Ernst Bloch’s utopian philosophy, looking in particular at the concept of the Novum (literally, the New) which he developed as part of his model of anticipatory consciousness (Vorschein). The Novum was extended by Darko Suvin in his influential formalist study of science fiction, Metamorphoses of Science Fiction: On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre (1979), where Suvin borrowed Bloch’s notion of multi-stranded temporal complexity in his examination of the structural ingreidents of science fiction as a genre. However, Suvin elided the explicitly Messianic framework in which Bloch’s Novum is grounded – derived from the Jewish tradition of redeeming the past, which is informed by complex messianic futurities germinative within the present time.

I will consider the temporal implications of the Blochian Novum (as well as its similarities with Suvin’s later reading) and what this means for our understanding of how the Novum functions in science fiction texts. Whether expressed by a new situation or secondary world, or a de-alienating socio-political perspective in which more egalitarian relations are articulated in a futuristic or fantastical landscape, the Novum should be understood as more than simply “new” narrative actants and settings. Rather, I shall argue, we need to pay attention to the layered temporal possibilities suggested in the structure of the Novum itself: at once anticipatory, utopian, reemptive, messianic, political and subjective.

There’ll be drinks afterwards at a watering hole of our choice.