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MELUS/SAMLA 2016 : PANEL: Dystopia and Utopia in Ethnic Literature


When Nov 4, 2016 - Nov 6, 2016
Where Jacksonville, FL
Submission Deadline May 20, 2016
Notification Due May 20, 2016
Final Version Due May 20, 2016
Categories    ethnic literature   speculative literature   american literature

Call For Papers

MELUS (Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States) I-B – at SAMLA Conference, Nov 4-6, 2016
Name of organization: Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States
Contact email:

Dystopia and Utopia in Ethnic Literature

"In a dystopian story, society itself is typically the antagonist; it is society that is actively working against the protagonist’s aims and desires. This oppression frequently is enacted by a totalitarian or authoritarian government, resulting in the loss of civil liberties and untenable living conditions, caused by any number of circumstances, such as world overpopulation, laws controlling a person’s sexual or reproductive freedom, and living under constant surveillance" (John Joseph Adams, 2011).

How do we read dystopian literatures that engage dystopian realities? What pedagogy does speculative fiction by people of color call for in a time when Ferguson exposes widespread state violence, Detroit and Flint water crises reveal the prevalence of what is being called environmental racism, and segregation persists in education systems across the country? When the nonfiction and lyric poetry of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Claudia Rankine suggests oppression characteristic of fictional dystopian landscapes? How do we engage speculative literature in context with discourse about America as a post-racial utopia, especially when uproar about Rue’s race in the Hunger Games reveals problematics of readership and race in YA literature?

What cultural work is ethnic speculative literature performing? What might it teach us about post-racial or post-feminist imaginaries? What can we make of Chicano/a science fiction depicting the borderlands, critiquing neocolonial relations between the US and Mexico? What of Chang-rae Lee’s work depicting post-climate change America? How is rising interest in Afrofuturism indicative of the need to simply imagine black people in the future?

By May 20, 2016, please submit a brief biography, 300 word abstract (please include working title) and a/v needs to Maia Butler, University of Louisiana at Lafayette at

All presenters, chairs, and moderators must be members of MELUS. Membership information can be found on the MELUS website at

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