Appel : Old and New Science Fiction Imaginaries in English-Speaking Cinema and TelevisionAppel

2-4 Septembre 2024, Milan (Italie)
Date limite de soumission : 3 mai 2024
SERCIA – Société pour l’Enseignement et la Recherche du CInéma Anglophone

Keynote speakers: Naomi Mandel (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Pawel Frelik (University of  Warsaw) 

In an interview about the end of the last millennium, James Ballard argued that Science Fiction (SF) had created  the greatest popular literature of the 20th century. The imagery that we saw in the cinema, television,  advertising and other media was the most powerful imagery produced in the last hundred years. By the end of  the century, the genre had done its job and it was dead. This hypothetical death has aroused a widespread  interest in the many ways in which it generated a collective social imaginary through popular images and stories  that, in Ballard’s words again, had “created the psychology of the last decades of the 20th century.” This debate  positioned the genre at the centre of academic discussions. The result was that SF, previously seen as a minor genre, became an important lens to understand not only the 20th century but the new millennium as well. Throughout the 20th century, SF territorialised the future  and, by extension, familiarised people with a large number of technologies and phenomena that have now  become standard in our current mediascape and social context. In other words, by territorialising the future,  the genre had built the present. 

Ballard’s statement implied that the genre was now no longer able to continue to produce the imagery of the  future or, as Vivian Sobchack argued, it had lost its ability “to reconcile man with the unknown.” And yet, over  the course of the first quarter of the 21st century, we have witnessed a huge increase in the general interest in  SF stories. This increase also encouraged the reformulation of some foundational SF stories: the adaptation of  literary texts to the screen – Minority Report (2002), The Handmaid’s Tale (2017-), Altered Carbon (2018- 20), Dune (2021, 2024) – or from the big screen to TV – Westworld (2016-22) –, as well as remakes and sequels  of earlier films and series – Battlestar Gallactica (2003, 2009, 2012), Total Recall (2012), Mad Max: Fury  Road (2015), Blade Runner 2049 (2017) and The Matrix Resurrections (2021). At the same time, the first quarter of  the 21st century has also been a rich and fertile period for the production of new SF stories, some of them  originating in literature, like Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life”, adapted as Arrival (2016), others directly  conceived for the big screen, like Children of Men (2006), Moon (2009), Interstellar (2014), Avatar (2009) and its  sequel (2022) and High Life (2018), and successful global TV series like Utopia (2013-14), Black Mirror (2011-)  and Stranger Things (2016-), among many others. 

The 29th SERCIA Annual Conference intends to celebrate SF, both in its manifold 21st-century  manifestations and by commemorating the old and long relationship between the genre and the cinematic  image, from George Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon (1902) to current ergodic and interactive narratives such  as Bandersnatch (2018). We, therefore, welcome not only studies of contemporary audiovisual manifestations of  the genre but also critical re-evaluations of 20th-century landmarks. We would also like to extend the debate  to the analysis of different forms of speculative audiovisual fiction in order to better understand the ways in  which the two main instruments for the production of the social imaginary of the last century (film and SF)  have familiarised us with technological devices, dystopian social scenarios, high-tech posthuman realities,  extraterrestrial presences and non-material digital universes. In other words, we propose to explore the ways  in which SF and the filmic image imagined the future during the last century and, in so doing, generated our  present time and sparked our own future-directed imaginations. 

We encourage proposals dealing with the following issues from a variety of perspectives (aesthetic, cultural,  economic, historical, etc.) in English-speaking films and series of the new millennium: 

* The history of SF, exploring and celebrating the enduring relationship between SF and film, the inscription  of contemporary films and series in the aesthetic and ideological traditions of the genre, notably through 

comparative studies between literature and film, or between new and canonic works, as well as new  perspectives on the classics of the genre. 

* Mapping the present time, imagining the future: we encourage proposals that deal with the ways in which the  future is imagined (and imaged) through SF. This is to say, how, in the course of the last century, SF  territorialized our present time and, by extension, populated our daily lives with themes and devices that have  built our present reality. We would like to discuss the ways cinema depicted the future in the past. 

* Reformulating the genre: new media technologies generate transmedia and adaptative phenomena that  naturally modify genres. From this perspective, proposals could analyze diverse forms of speculative fiction  and/or attempt to identify new narrative forms and to map, in the genre’s universe, new topoi that could be  identified as new declensions of SF. 

* Adaptation, analyzing the ways in which the complex narrative structure of SF is adapted to the screen.  Proposals that enquire into the transition of certain technological devices from a textual dimension to the  image are also welcome. 

* Cyberpunk: we would like to open a space for the discussion of social problems and phenomena related to  technological developments. We encourage contributions that engage with the main topics of cyberpunk, and  identify them in our current audiovisual production. We welcome analyses of the ways that the main cyberpunk  topoi (e.g., dystopia, A.I. societal collapse, among others) have been reformulated after the Digital Revolution. 

* Theoretical formulations and re-formulations of the genre, its limits and its intersections with other genres  are also welcome. 

Send proposals to German A. Duarte ( and Celestino Deleyto  ( Dealine. May 3, 2024. 

Prospective participants are advised that, in order to participate in the conference, they must  previously become members of SERCIA. Go to sercia or contact 

Scientific Committee: Delphine Letort, David Roche, Marianne Kac- Vergne, Christophe Gelly, Pablo Gómez,  Julia Echeverría, German A. Duarte, Celestino Deleyto. 

Contact Information 

Organizers: German A. Duarte ( and Celestino Deleyto ( 

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OpenEdition vous propose de citer ce billet de la manière suivante :
Marie Lucie Bougon (3 avril 2024). Appel : Old and New Science Fiction Imaginaries in English-Speaking Cinema and TelevisionAppel. LPCM. Consulté le 23 juillet 2024 à l’adresse

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