From the SFRA 2021 Conference
Recipient’s Statement for the Lifetime Contributions to SF Scholarship Award 2020
My thanks to the SFRA for this honour. Special thanks to the members of the Award committee—my esteemed colleagues Amy Ransom, Art Evans, and Isiah Lavender. I’m deeply grateful for the support of the SFRA Executive—Gerry Canavan, Sonja Fritzsche, Hugh O’Connell, Keren Omry, and Sean Guynes—and of our host for this year’s conference, my good friend Graham Murphy. I’m so sorry not to see you all in person. It’s been a brilliant conference.
My very first conference where I presented my very first paper was the 1985 SFRA. Although I’ve strayed from SFRA from time to time over the years, my alter ego and ex-SFRA president, Joan Gordon, has always lured me back. SFRA’s recognition of my scholarship is particularly gratifying, as I consider it to be my academic home.
I’ve always been attracted by the bright shiny concepts of contemporary cultural theory. Over the years I’ve written about Derridean archive fever, cyborg theory, postmodernism, performance theory, Chinese science fiction, cyberculture, critical posthumanism, the climate crisis, plant studies, and lotsabout queer-feminist gender and sexuality. Right now, I’m thinking about artificial intelligence. I’m pleased to report that there’s just no end to it…
The one thing that all this research has in common is science fiction, which has always been my “object of study” (as we say in my Cultural Studies Department).
I’ve been blessed by the science-fiction universe, in my academic job, for instance, in the Cultural Studies Department at Trent University. For most of the last two decades that I worked there, I taught an average of two full-year courses on science fiction every year, including a fourth-year honours seminar that was absolutely mine to do with as I pleased. I’ve had many opportunities to introduce younger students to the amazements of science fiction and many opportunities to talk about science fiction with smart and interested more experienced students. It’s been a great gift to have a job where my teaching and my research have so often intersected.
In the same year that I began at Trent—1990—I began my stint as co-editor of Science Fiction Studies and, although I’ve retired from Trent, I am still deeply engaged with that wonderful project. It has situated me at one of the key sites of sf scholarship in English for all of my academic life and helped me to keep up to date on work by a diversity of scholars, all of whom are deeply engaged with their own bright shiny objects, concepts, texts, histories, politics, and cultures. SFS has also given me an academic family of co-editors beyond compare: Art Evans, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Joan Gordon, Carol McGuirk, Lisa Swanstrom, and Sherryl Vint, and past co-editor Rob Latham. I owe them more than I can ever repay for their years of friendship, hard work, and general all-around brilliance. I also want to give a shout-out to two newer colleagues, Moritz Ingwersen and Brent Ryan Bellamy, whose work has had such a positive impact on my own in the past few years. Given that we’re all posthuman now and we know there’s really no such thing as an individual, my achievements, such as they are, are far from being down to me. So many wonderful people have influenced, supported, and co-created my work, including so many of you in SFRA. I thank you very much for this honour, and I hope that you will all agree to share it with me. Thank you.