AI Meets Tolkien: Non-Human Minds in Speculative Fiction
CFP: Finncon 2019 Academic Track, Jyväskylä July 5–7, 2019
The organization committee of Finncon and the Finnish Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research (Finfar) are happy to announce that Finncon 2019 will once again feature an academic programming track! As in previous years, the track is intended as multilingual and interdisciplinary, and it will be free of charge and open to everyone interested in the research of speculative fiction. The aim of the track is to employ various academic frameworks and approaches in order to examine the themes and issues discussed in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other genres of speculative fiction.
As per usual, the academic track aims to follow the overall themes of Finncon, which means that this year’s programming will center on artificial intelligence on the one hand, and J.R.R. Tolkien on the other hand. AI has slowly but surely crept from the novels, TV screens and geeky daydreams to our everyday lives. In other words, the theme now covers everything from familiar smartphones and search engines to dystopic Skynets and machine uprisings. It is not only AI sci-fi that probes the threats and possibilities of non-human intelligence, however. J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic works also depict creatures that are as conscious of themselves as humans, but differ from us in various other ways. Indeed, where thinking machines are a central topic in science fiction, fantasy and horror have investigated multifarious other kinds of non-human minds, such as the minds of fairies, orcs, and monsters.
The Academic Track of Finncon 2019 thereby welcomes 20-minute oral presentations whose topics could include but are not limited to:
The relationships between the humankind and intelligent technology
Non-human creatures and their conscious or non-conscious activities
The relations between human and non-human characters and societies
Depiction or narration of minds and intelligences in speculative fiction
Cognition and speculation
Although literature has traditionally been considered the cradle of speculative fiction, the presentations can also discuss works from other media, including comics, digital games, films and TV shows. You are welcome to give your presentation in Finnish, English or Swedish.
If you would like to participate in the academic programming and introduce your research to the wide, enthusiastic audiences of Finncon, please send a 300-word abstract and a short bio to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 10, 2019. Pdf- and .docx files are both accepted. Presenters chosen for the academic track will be contacted personally in late spring or early summer.
The Finnish Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research is also planning other informal activities for Finncon, which all presenters are welcome to join. Furthermore, before the main event, Finfar will organize a traditional paper workshop at the University of Jyväskylä. Everyone interested in speculative fiction research, especially students working on their MA theses or doctoral dissertations, are invited to send in short works-in-process papers to be discussed in the workshop. Further details will be announced at a later date.
For more information on Finncon events and Finfar’s activities, please consult the websites: Finncon 2019 & Finfar