Handout: King, panel “Sci Fi Ecologies” – talk website: http://ecosfking.blogspot.com/?

view=flipcard Fifth Annual Queer Studies Symposium: Delany at 70: honoring the life & work of Samuel R. Delany, University of Maryland, April 20 SF Ecologies: speculative, feminist, science as knowledges Katie King, Women's Studies, University of Maryland, College Park/Email: katking@umd.edu Home Page: http://katiekin.weebly.com/ | SF Feminisms class website: http://sffem.blogspot.com/
Fall 2011 I taught a class on Science Fiction Feminisms -- with an eye to sharing with students in this format what I have been working on lately as a feminist transdisciplinary posthumanities (King 2011). Why SF? As Helen Merrick has pointed out (2009) feminist theory has altered SF dramatically, and what's more SF has altered feminist theory too. Engaging SF Ecologies in particular is a great way to share with students introductions to: • the sciences of complexity as they alter feminist politics. See Evelyn Fox Keller's prize winning book The Mirage of a Space between Nature and Nurture as it recasts the binaries of sex/gender as they figure in feminist thinking and action; and • how to be an agent among the complex worldly processes humans are not the controllers of, but bits within; studies of emergence and self-organization. See Jane Bennett's Vibrant Matter as it rethinks the political in these terms. Delany's role in making SF Ecologies visible, artful, talkable, and anti-normative is a guideline through these histories.

• “People often cannot see what they take for granted until they encounter someone who does not take it for granted.” (Bowker and Star 1999: 305) EMBEDDED REALITIES > CONTACT > DELANY @ 70 > WHY SF? SF – scientifiction, science fiction, speculative fiction, speculative feminisms, science communication and fabulation, wormholes & the plasticities of embedded realities – ecological across systems and multiplicities, amid emergent self-organizing agencies TRANSCONTEXTUAL PRACTICES: "SF benefited hugely from those early years of the paperback revolution. Joanna Russ, Thomas M. Disch, Ursula K. Le Guin, Roger Zelazny, R.A. Lafferty – the number of markedly exciting SF writers whose careers were strongly shaped by that revolution makes your jaw drop. In 1951, there were only 15 volumes published which, by any stretch of the imagination, could be called SF novels, while last year SF made up approximately 16% of all new fiction published in the US. When, by the mid '70s, crunch crunch was undeniable, there still seemed to be some factors built into the geography of our particular SF precinct (or ghetto, if you like) that kept the damages at bay a little longer than in some other fields – primary among them, the vitality and commitment of SF's highly vocal and long time organized readership, whose most energetic manifestation is the complex and fascinating phenomenon, fandom. But by now, the material hardships have made their inroads even into SF." (Delany 1994 [1987]) • phrases quoted from Bateson: "genesis of tangles," "the weave of contextual structure," and "transcontextual syndrome” • More Bateson: “It seems that both those whose life is enriched by transcontextual gifts and those who are impoverished by transcontextual confusions are alike in one respect: for them there is always or often a ‘double take.’ A falling leaf [or] the greeting of a friend…is not ‘just that and nothing more.’” (Star & Ruhleder 1996: 127 quote Bateson 1972: 276; Bateson: 272; Star 2010: 610) SCIENCES OF COMPLEXITY ALTER FEMINIST POLITICS See Evelyn Fox Keller's prize winning book The Mirage of a Space between Nature and Nurture as it recasts the binaries of sex/gender as they figure in feminist thinking and action. She won the Bernal Prize at this year's 4S [Society for the Social Studies of Science], and spoke to the conference via Skype. VIBRANTLY MATTERING How to be an agent among the complex worldly processes humans are not the controllers of, but bits within; studies of emergence and self-organization. EMBEDDED REALITIES across transmedia storytelling. "Academic practices of all kinds are now also enlisted as kinds of transmedia storytelling. I call these Queer Transdisciplinarities, but not in a move to enlist them in identity politics, although sometimes they very explicitly and quite properly are, inside my own feminist fields of interest and attention. Rather, my point in naming them thus is to watch them ‘queer the pitch’: they require us to attend to, to learn to be affected by, the political economies of knowledge worlds, to how interlinked now are the economies of entertainment, knowledge laborings, globally restructured academies, governmentalities, and the infrastructures of communication." (King 2011, “Queering the Pitch.”) THE FUTURE IS NOW: sustainable, commercial, ecological, double bind innovation, restructuring, queering the pitch "technological advocates who construct diegetic prototypes have a vested interest in conveying to audiences that these fictional technologies can and should exist in the real world. In essence, they are creating ‘pre-product placements’ for technologies that do not yet exist. Film-makers and science consultants craft diegetic prototypes and enhance their realism by creating a full elaboration of the technological diegesis which includes any part of the fictional world concerning the technology. Through their actions they construct a filmic realism that implies self-consistency in both the real world and the story world.The creation of diegetic prototypes involves the inclusion of scenes that provide opportunities to demonstrate this realism as well as positing a real world need for the technology and the avoidance of scenes that would undermine the technology or cast it as risky." (Kirby 2010: 46)

"Near Future Laboratory is a thinking, making, design, development and research practice based in California and Europe. Our goal is to understand how imaginations and hypothesis become materialized to swerve the present into new, more habitable near future worlds." Online at: http://nearfuturelaboratory.com/ CAVENDISH PASTPRESENTS “material vitalism” > Keller among the feminist technosciences > Phillip Pullman’s Gnostic anti-salvationisms > Filmic visualizations not quite able to design these fictions

HER WORLD EXPLODED; HIS WORLD EXPLODED: stories are wormholes: pastpresenting, sowing worlds, in play "All the writer's noise is finally an attempt to shape a silence in which something can go on. ¶Call it the silence of interpretation, if you will; but even that's too restrictive. The silence of response is probably better--if not just silence itself. ¶The writer tries to shape it carefully, conscientiously; but both forming and hearing it today can be equally hard. The journalist may want a very different kind of thing to go on in that silence from what the experimental poet wants. One may well want the audience to use it as a lucid moment in which to make a decision for action, while the other may want the audience only to hear that it is there and to appreciate its opacities and malleabilities, its resistances to and acceptances of certain semiotic violences. The SF writer may want the audience to observe in it the play and fragile stability of the object world which its malleabilities and opacities alone can model." (Delany 1994 [1987])
WORMHOLED CRITIQUE – WORLDS IN DESIGN & PLAY • Being inside and moved around literally by the very material and conceptual structures you are analyzing and writing about is a kind of self-consciousness only partially available for explicit, or direct discussion • Under global academic restructuring we are obliged to network among all these lively agencies, as we look to see things as they exist for others, in different degrees of resolution, of grain of detail. (See King. 2011. Networked Reenactments.) A FEMINIST TRANSDISCIPLINARY POSTHUMANITIES: Under global academic restructuring – • movement among knowledge worlds is mandated -- in terms hardly consistent • interdisciplinarity -- justifies consolidated units and resources • restructuring promotes an easily assessed instrumental practicality, as if the standard for good interdisciplinary methodology was easy assessment • disciplinary chauvinisms – are made urgent, personal and compensatory • quantitative assessments of productivity and authority -- measures for advancement, status or just getting a job done • establishing and maintaining authority in an environment in which many knowledge worlds compete • the empirical, the data-driven, the concrete, and the local are all more manageable, more easily broken up into task, then held accountable to a very particular set of folks and their properly urgent ethics • Yet diverging knowledge worlds keep making such management problematic, uneven, partial, at times virtually impossible The “rigor” of transcontextual feminist methods comes into play when we welcome peripheral participations (robust across sites) as well as work for an exquisite sensitivity to each horizon of possible resources and infrastructures, local exigencies, and differential memberships (plastic and local). Transcontextual feminisms as I have come to understand them, work to remain curious, even about and in the midst the affects of affiliation and disidentification, scoping extensively and scaling intensively among Ecologies of Knowledge. (Star 1999) References: With appreciation and wonder always from inspirations by Octavia Butler & Donna Haraway….
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Bateson, G. 1972. "Double Bind, 1969.” In Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Chandler, 276, 272. -- 1979. Mind and Nature. Dutton Bauchspies, W.K., & Puig de la Bellacasa, M. 2009. “A patchwork of moving subjectivities.” Subjectivity, 28, 334–344. Bennett, J. 2010. Vibrant matter: a political ecology of things. Duke. Bowker, G.C., & Star, S.L. 1999. Sorting things out: classification and its consequences. MIT. Butler, O. 1995. Bloodchild and other stories. Four Walls Eight Windows. Delany, S. R. 1994. “The Semiology of Silence.” [1987] In Silent Interviews: On Language, Race, Sex, Science Fiction, and Some Comics. Wesleyan. Flanagan, M. 2009. Critical play: radical game design. MIT. Haran, J., McNeil, M., Kitzinger, J., & O’Riordan, K. 2008. Human cloning in the media: from science fiction to science practice. Routledge. Haraway, D. ms2010. "Sowing Worlds: a Seed Bag for Terraforming with Earth Others." For Beyond the Cyborg: Adventures with Haraway, by Margaret Grebowicz and Helen Merrick, Columbia, forthcoming. Keller, E. F. The mirage of a space between nature and nurture. Duke. King, K. 2011. Networked Reenactments: stories transdisciplinary knowledges tell. Duke. -- 2011. "Transdisciplinarities: queering the pitch." Paper for panel “Tracing Technoscientific Imaginaries Through Contemporary Culture” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S), Cleveland OH, November 5, 2011. Online at: http://queertransd.blogspot.com/p/presentation.html Kirby, D. 2010. “The Future is Now: Diegetic Prototypes and the Role of Popular Films in Generating Real-world Technological Development.” Social Studies of Science, 40(1), 41-70. -- 2011. Lab coats in Hollywood: Science, scientists, and cinema. MIT. Larbalestier, J. 2002. The battle of the sexes in science fiction. Wesleyan. Merrick, H. 2009. The secret feminist cabal: a cultural history of science fiction feminisms. Aqueduct. Star, S.L. & Ruhleder, K. 1996. ”Steps toward an ecology of infrastructure.” Information Systems Research 7(1), 127. Star, S.L., ed. 1995. Ecologies of Knowledge: Work and politics in science and technology. SUNY. -- 1999. “The Ethnography of Infrastructure.” American Behavioral Scientist (Nov/Dec) 43/3, 377-392. Weston, K. 2002. Gender in Real Time: Power and Transience in a Visual Age. Routledge.

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