Week 5

Refining my provisional project topic

My current idea is to build on my research from my undergraduate degree, in which I wrote a dissertation called ‘Keith Piper and Speculative Narratives: How Visions of the Body and Technology Influence Speculative Futures’. This dissertation focused on the artist Keith Piper and his work, particularly his exhibition ‘Jet Black Futures’ (2022), discussing how his work explores the complex questions surrounding technology and the body, its science fiction influences, and how it creates speculative narratives.

Influenced by the electives so far (Text Remix, Interdisciplinary Futures, World of Story, and Creating Visual Narratives), I have found new texts and areas to explore (for example, the work of the Author Ursula Le Guin) and reconnected creatively, producing works of visual and written narrative that I didn’t know I was capable of. I also learned about many new tools and ways of creating these narratives, including using AI.

Initially, I thought that I might just write an essay, focusing on the texts and works which interested me, however, now I am considering doing a blended project, consisting of both essay and of my own creations (possibly a written or visual narrative which exemplifies my ideas about speculative futures).

At the moment, my developing idea for my project is to explore diverse speculative narratives, focusing on technology and the body, and potentially blend in some of my own creative work as well (creative writing or a visual narrative). I would like to explore this in a interdisciplinary/cross-disciplinary way. Additionally, I would like to go more in depth, explore intersectionality, and explore texts and areas that I did not get to explore before or have discovered since.

Some of the new influences I would like to explore include, Ursula Le Guin, Janelle Monet’s work (specifically the book ‘The Memory Librarian’), Alberta Whittle, Rashaad Newsome, and Solomon Enos.




   Alberta Whittle, 'Celestial Meditations' (2018), http://www.tyburngallery.com/artist/alberta-whittle/#lg=1&slide=2



Futures Project Reading List

-Alicia Yanez Cossio’s “The IWM 1000” from the 1970s

-The big book of science fiction

-Amazing stories

– Age of Wonders: Exploring the World of Science Fiction (1984), David Hartwell

– Rokheya Shekhawat Hossain’s “Sultana’s Dream” (1905) is a potent feminist utopian vision.

-W. E. B. Du Bois’s “The Comet” (1920) isn’t just a story about an impending science-fictional catastrophe but also the start of a conversation about race relations and a proto-Afrofuturist tale.

– Yefim Zozulya’s “The Doom of Principal City”(1918)

– A. Merritt’s “The Last Poet and the Robots” (1935)

– Frederik Pohl’s “Day Million” (1966)

– Karel Capek- 1920s robot plays and his gonzo novel War with the Newts from the 1930s

– Katherine MacLean

-Margaret St. Clair

-Carol Emshwiller

– Ursula K. Le Guin – essay “American SF and the Other” (1975)

– Joanna Russ – essay “The Image of Women in Science Fiction” (1970)

– James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Sheldon), Russ, Josephine Saxton, Le Guin.

– The Ultimate Cyberpunk (2002), which contextualized cyberpunk within earlier influences (not always successfully) and also showcased post-cyberpunk works.

– Angelica Gorodischer was publishing such incendiary feminist material as “The Unmistakable Smell of Wood Violets” (1985)

– Misha Nogha, whose Arthur C. Clarke Award finalist Red Spider White Web (1990

– Zipes, Jack. Speaking Out : Storytelling and Creative Drama for Children, Taylor & Francis Group, 2004. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ed/detail.action?docID=199667.
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-‘Narrative fiction creates possible worlds— but they are worlds extrapolated from the world we know, however much they may soar beyond it. The art of the possible is a perilous art. It must take heed of life as we know it, yet alienate us from it sufficiently to tempt us into thinking of alternatives beyond it. It challenges as it comforts. In the end, it has the power to change our habits of conceiving what is real, what is canonical. It can even undermine the law’s dictates about what constitutes a canonical reality.’ —Jerome Braner, Making Stories

– ‘It would be misleading to argue that every story told is utopian or to assert that there is an “essential” utopian nature to storytelling. There is, however, a utopian tendency of telling that helps explain why it is we feel so compelled to create and disseminate tales and why we are enthralled by particular stories. In his monumental three-volume work The Principle of Hope, the philosopher Ernst Bloch argued that real-life experiences are at the basis of our utopian longings and notions. Because our daily lives are not exactly what we want them to be, we daydream with a certain intentionality and glimpse another world that urges us on and stimulates our creative drives to reach a more ideal state of being. It is our realization of what is missing in our lives that impels us to create works of art that not only reveal insights into our struggles but also shed light on alternatives and possibilities to restructure our mode of living and social relations. It is through art that utopia, designated as no place that we have ever seen or truly experienced, is to be realized as a place truly inhabitable for humans, a real humane place different from the brutal artificial places we inhabit and the earth that we are in the process of destroying with dubious notions of progress. All art, according to Bloch, contains images of hope illuminating ways to create a utopian society that offset our destructive drives.’

– Murray, Janet Horowitz. Hamlet on the Holodeck : the Future of Narrative in Cyberspace / JanetH. Murray. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1998. Print.

-The John Hopkins Guide to Digital Media, Marie-Laure Ryan, Lori Emerson, and Benjamin J. Robertson.

Week 10

Project Development

How has your project developed? What were some of the key ideas/texts/resources shared by your peers that moved your project forward? Where have you made changes, where did these decisions arise?

My project has developed a little, I am slowly researching and am more at the widening scope stage at the moment. The different intensives have greatly shaped what I imagine my project will look like, and in talking to my peers I have gained ideas and thought more about it’s structure.

Currently, I am creating a long list of sources and readings, largely helped by the reading from the intensives, especially ‘writing speculative fiction’. Additionally, I have been adding anything I come across which I feel is relevant and have been listening to the podcasts ‘The Digital Human’ and ‘Edgy Ideas’ which are helping me think more about current issues, topics, and problems in the world and ideas about solving them. This has led for me to think about wider research questions and how my work could potentially address them. The two ‘Edgy Ideas’ episodes 62: Becoming digitally savvy with Anni Rowland-Campbell and 65: Purpose upgrade with Paul Skinner have been particularly relevant in terms of issues discussed and thinking holistically. I am interested in delving deeper into these ideas and into the work of the guests, particularly Anni Rowland-Campbell.

Additionally, In talking to my peers about the structure of my project, I have more of an idea of what I want to create. I want my project to be largely research based and centered around the exploration of ideas, however due to the modules ‘world of story’ and ‘writing speculative fiction’, I want to incorporate my own creative work (possibly short pieces of narrative text/a story spread throughout), and embed it in the project to aid and embody the ideas discussed.

I am still looking at the ideas of intersectionality in speculative fiction and science fiction works, and am still exploring texts and art for this. I think the idea of the cyborg and what that means in fiction vs in real life and how they combine is really interesting, and something to keep researching into.

Key Ideas:
  • Cyborg Feminism
  • Cyberpunk
  • Afro-futurism
  • Indigenous Futurism
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Intersectionality
  • AI
  • Science Fiction
  • Speculative Fiction
  • narrative
  • art
Solidified Project Idea:

An essay investigating ‘intersectional cyborgism’ through narrative and scattering my own creative work (narrative) throughout as a response and to embody the ideas discussed.

Week 7

Methodology - Methods Training & Research

I do imagine that my Futures Project will take a qualitative approach and use discourse analysis. I also plan to potentially use an intersectional approach or look at texts through an intersectional lens.

During my undergraduate degree, when doing research for my dissertation, I did delve into phenomenology a little, due to reading a lot of academic papers about embodiment and ideas about mind-body dualism in relation to Descartes when exploring cyborgs, AI, and the metaverse (technology & the body). It was, however, an approach/topic that was quite complex and a large undertaking for me at the time, and I focused on other things in the end. So I could potentially explore it in my Futures Project.

Next, I plan to research more into my topic area (Afro-futurism, Indigenous futurism, combinations of technology and the body) and find more new areas and academic texts within it to explore, as well as find and read literature which I might want to explore. I might also search for more artworks in this area and research them — as I may use visual analysis in my final futures project — because I am interested in multimedia and the intersection of image and text. This may mean that I will also utilise art historical methodologies in my futures project such as iconographic and formalist methodologies, although I am most likely to take a majoritively biographical/contextual approach, looking at identity and history. Also, I may ask certain lecturers if they have any recommendations for where I should look for sources.

Overall, everything I am doing in my modules feeds into my learning and my approach for my futures project.