Science Fiction & Fictions in Science (Due 11/15/12)

Science Fiction & Fictions in Science
An interdisciplinary graduate symposium to be held at Rutgers University, Friday, March 1st, 2013, with keynote speaker Rosalind Williams of M.I.T.

Sponsored by Natura: A Working Group in History of Science and Epistemology.

Conference Website:

Our conference will explore the rich collision of fact and fiction that takes place within the concepts and practices of science and technology. Science, our foremost cultural institution of fact-production and fact-determination, nonetheless makes recourse to metaphor, narrative form, and fictional strategies throughout its practices of modeling, experimentation, and explanation. Reciprocally, science fiction’s broad-ranging imagination is balanced by its obsession with materiality, plausibility, and the form of factual discourse.

We are looking for papers that cut across the “two-culture” divide to reveal (and revel in) the hybridity of science, narrative, and fictional modes. What kind of narratives are admissible in scientific explanation? What, exactly, is so “scientific” about the narratives of science fiction? How do historical texts that we might call “science fiction” change the way we think about the relationship between science and narrative? Do scientific models and hypotheses have fictional status? What role do narratives play in the creation and dissemination of scientific theories and technologies?

Potential themes and topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • Possible Worlds Theory, the Multiverse Hypothesis, and the ontology of fictional worlds
  • Form and formalism in science and SF
  • Empirical writing, technical writing
  • Explanation (and fiction, narrative, cognition…)
  • Metaphor in technology and scientific modeling
  • Denialism, Skepticism, “Junk Science”
  • Miracles, wonders, and unrepeatable results
  • Historical narratives of or in science
  • Alien abduction, Spiritualism, Mesmerism
  • Demonstration and theatricality in science and technology
  • Experimentalism in writing, art, practice
  • Hard SF, Futurism, the forms and/or politics of “progress”
  • The “Two Cultures” debate
  • Scientific realism versus anti-realism
  • Graphs, Charts, and the role of visual presentations in scientific papers and journalism
  • Cyberpunk, Postmodernism, Extropianism

Graduate students – please send titled abstracts of no more than 400 words, name redacted, along with a CV labeled with the title of your abstract, to by November 15th, 2012.
Interested faculty or post-doctoral researchers are welcome to contact us about potential roles as panel moderators or respondents.