Upcoming Projects: South African Science Fiction and Kage Baker

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I said at the beginning of this semester that I wasn’t going to do any more academic conferences.  Part of that is because I don’t want to spend any more money for travel expenses and the other part is because I want to start focusing on publications.

Well…so much for that idea.

In a few weeks, I will be presenting an essay on South African genre fiction at a local conference.  The essay focuses on contemporary SA SF, such as written work by Lauren Beukes and S. L. Grey and films like Neil Blomkamp’s District 9.  Specifically, I am interested in the problem of interpretation.  One of the issues I see with how people read SA SF is that such readings are often overly simplistic.  It’s too easy to read District 9 as a thinly-veiled allegory of Apartheid.  But doing so, in my mind, is reductive; it ignores the contemporary position of South Africa:  that is that SA is not an Apartheid State anymore; rather, it is a post-Apartheid State, and discussing contemporary literature should take that into account.  Every reference to racial tensions are, in my mind, more accurately applied to SA now than to SA as it was in a worse time.  That’s not to say that talking about Apartheid is not relevant to interpretation or reading, just that reducing our reading experience to historical sensationalism presents problems for reception.

That’s the first…

The second project I’m working on is not a sure thing — yet.  A friend semi-invited me to contribute to a panel she is working on with another friend for the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA) — where China Mieville is Guest of Honor.  Their panel is focused on experiences of trauma and the “monster within,” and I happen to have a paper that I’ve been meaning to rework that deals with those issues.  And the text in question?  Kage Baker’s The House of the Stag.  In the original paper, I focused on the reconstruction of history and its impact on subjectivity in Baker’s novel and Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land.  For this paper, I’m reconstructing the sections on Baker’s novel in order to talk about how colonial trauma and exile lead to a different kind of internal acceptance — if you’ve read the book, then you know that Gard adopts the narrative of the Dark Lord in order to find a “space” to exist within an extensive system of colonial exclusions.  Hopefully the paper will turn out well.  We’ll see.

And there you go.  What are you working on (academic or otherwise)?

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Florida studying science fiction, postcolonialism, posthumanism, and fantasy.

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