ICFA 39 200 Years of the Fantastic: Celebrating Frankenstein and Mary Shelley

by nike, September 4, 2017

Elsa Lanchester as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley in Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

An audience needs something stronger than a pretty little love story. So, why shouldn’t I write of monsters?
(Mary Shelley, the character, from the 1935 film Bride of Frankenstein)

Darlings! You won’t believe it. (Well, you might). Here’s the most amazing news: in March next year, I’ll be a Guest of Honour at the 39th annual International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, alongside the incredible John Kessel (Nebula, Locus and Tiptree Award winner), and Guest Scholar Fred Botting (Professor, Kingston University London; author of Making Monstrous: “Frankenstein”, Criticism, Theory; Gothic; and Limits of Horror).

I really, really hope you’ll come and share this marvellous event with me. This will be my first time in the US since WISCON in 2014. I suspect in Florida there’ll be less cheese and more … golf? Alligators? Manatees? Spaceships? Who knows?! Everything I know about the state I learned from four sources: NASA, Cecil B D Mille’s film Reap the Wild Wind, the TV program Miami Vice and Karen Russell’s fiction. So … basically I’m anticipating space shuttles operated/attacked by vampire pirates wearing pastel 80s suits.

It’s the birthplace of Coppertone (and hence the 1965 Coppertone ad featuring Jodie Foster), and the state where Eugene Rudy (the ‘Miami Zombie’) ate half the face of a homeless man named ‘Poppo’ before being shot dead by police. More cheerfully, it’s the location of St Augustine, founded in September 1565, which is reputedly the “oldest continuously occupied settlement of European and African-American origin in the United States”. It was settled by the Spanish after, reputedly, being ‘discovered’ by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513.

Sounds like a perfect place to have a conference focusing on the strange, the weird, and the fantastic.

The IAFA (International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts) recently posted the Call for Papers, which you’ll find below, with links for help from the Division Heads, the CFP as a PDF, and a link to submit proposals:

Please join us for ICFA 39, March 14-18, 2018, when our theme will be 200 Years of the Fantastic: Celebrating Frankenstein and Mary Shelley.

We welcome papers on the work of: Guest of Honor John Kessel, Guest of Honor Nike Sulway, and Guest Scholar Fred Botting.

Mary Shelley and her Creature have had a pervasive influence on the fantastic. Brian Aldiss famously proclaimed Frankenstein as the first science fiction novel, fusing the investigation of science with the Gothic mode. Its myriad adaptation on stage, in film and beyond have continually reinvented Shelley’s tale for contemporary audiences, from James Whale’s iconic 1931 film through Showtime’s Penny Dreadful (2014-16). Frankenstein exists in many avatars and many languages. Its central invention of the scientifically created being has become a staple of the fantastic imaginary from Asimov’s robots through Ava in Ex Machina (Alex Garland 2014) or Samantha in Her (Spike Jonze 2013). Shelley Jackson’s early hypertext Patchwork Girl (1995) and Danny Boyle’s innovatively staged version of Nick Dear’s play both shows us how Frankenstein continues to push us toward innovations in form, while the novel’s interest in themes of scientific responsibility, social isolation, and gender inequality remain sharply relevant. We invite papers that explore the many legacies of Frankenstein on fantastic genres, characters, images and modes, especially those that explore the ongoing importance of women’s contributions to them, beginning with Mary Shelley. We also welcome proposals for individual papers, academic sessions, creative presentations, and panels on any aspect of the fantastic in any media.

The deadline for proposals is October 31, 2017. We encourage work from institutionally affiliated scholars, independent scholars, international scholars who work in languages other than English, graduate students, and artists.

To submit a proposal, go to http://www.fantastic-arts.org/icfa-submissions/.

To contact the Division Heads for help with submissions, go to http://www.fantastic-arts.org/annual-conference/division-heads.

To download a copy of the CfP, please click here.

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