June 2-3, 2017
|ACCSFF continued to
grow in 2017, largely thanks to the efforts of our graduate assistant and
social media guru, Clare Wall. There were a total of nine sessions, only
two of them concurrent, and 21 papers altogether. Topics ranged from graphic
novels to film, television, and literature, and authors discussed included
A. E. van Vogt, Dave Duncan, Guy Gavriel Kay, Margaret Atwood, and Peter
Watts. There were papers dealing with writers from the Asian-Canadian and
Native-Canadian communities, and analyses of such themes as cyborgs and the
moral and political dimensions of fantasy.
The Keynote Address Speakers were Madeline Ashby, who spoke Friday evening about knowledge and cognition in the age of the internet, and Dominick M. Grace--an ACCSFF regular--who recounted his experience with fantastic literature as a fan and scholar.
The conference began Friday afternoon with a presentation of certificates of gratitude to two of the most important people helping ACCSFF prosper and grow: librarian Annette Mocek of the Merril Collection and Clare Wall. There then followed a session on Canadian science fiction featuring a talk by Doug Ivison on van Vogt and modernism and a presentation by Michael Kaler on Spider Robinson, philosopher Stephen Gaskin, and the revival of myth through fantastic literature. The second session was the first of two on fantasy: Adam Guzkowski spoke on the problem of magic and free will in Dave Duncan's novel The Gilded Chain, Natalie Ingram discussed the problematics of cultural appropriation and Orientalism in Guy Gavriel's Under Heaven, and Michael Johnstone presented on Kay's Tigana and the novel's politics.
After supper, Madeline Ashby gave her Keynote Address, which was followed by a session on posthumanism and cyborgs in Canadian science fiction, including Ashby's vN--the subject of Clare Wall's paper. Wall was joined on the panel by Edna E. Bovas, who discussed cyborgs in the context of personhood and identity.
Saturday morning began with Dominick Grace's Keynote Address, which was illustrated with photos showing his development as a lover of science fiction and then a researcher in the field. Session IV, immediately after the Address, dealt with apocalyptic visions and magic realism in Canadian fantastic work: Ben Eldridge discussed violence and sadism in Peter Watts's Rifters trilogy, while Cat Ashton looked at language as contagion in the novels of Tony Burgess and Eric McCormack. The morning concluded with the second session on Canadian fantasy: Eleanora Rao presented on fairy tales in Margaret Atwood's work, Derek Newman-Stille discussed Emma Donoghue's revisionist fairy tale "The Tale of the Shoe," and Kristen Shaw presented on variations on vampire mythology in Certain Dark Things and Night Wanderer.
The conference broke for lunch, and then returned for two concurrent sessions on Canadian fantastic media, with Session VI-A on television and VI-B on film. In the television session, Lisa Macklem presented a paper on empowered women in the program 12 Monkeys, followed by Meghan Riley's paper on race and masculinity in a number of programs. Meanwhile, in the film session, David Cheater presented on magic realism in Canadian queer cinema, and Amber Linkenheld-Struk examined existentialist concepts in Arrival.
Session VII was on Race and Ethnicity in Canadian fantastic literature, with a fascinating look at the "perpetual foreigner syndrome" in Chinese-Canadian and Chinese-American science fiction and fantasy. Selena Middleton followed with an equally interesting look at apocalyptic themes in the short stories of two Native-Canadian authors: Eden Robinson and Lee Maracle. The final session was on graphic novels and music: J. Andrew Deman discussed the theme of Canadian identity in We Stand on Guard, Anna Peppard compared portrayals of the two Prime Minister Trudeaus in Marvel comics, and Alexander Sallas analysed the dystopian nature of City by Strapping Young Lad. The variety of subjects covered by the presenters at ACCSFF '17 testifies to the diversity of Canadian expression in the fantastic, and also the wide range of interests of both young and established scholars in the field.
Great thanks must go to Annette Mocek and Clare Wall, as well as the other volunteers who helped out all weekend long. A huge thank you to all!