serious academic pursuits

by fledgling otaku on May 8, 2007

The Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies (PRS), of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Leeds in Leeds, UK has issued a very important call for papers:

Call for Papers: The Politics, Poetics and Philosophy of Battlestar Galactica: A One Day Symposium

Summary: Since its return, the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica has emerged as the most politically, philosophically and artistically compelling television series of recent years. Opening with the near-obliteration of mankind by a race of cyborgs evolved from human technologies, BSG’s survivors – including a war-weary military commander, a minor cabinet member suddenly elevated to President, a scientific genius harbouring a secret and hallucinating his duplicitous girlfriend – variously struggle to reconcile the grief and guilt of survival, their own personal and psychological flaws, and the demands of fighting an enemy uncannily close to themselves. Remaking the cult 1970s original as a morally challenging, psychologically complex and politically controversial science fiction series, the show combines thriller, space opera, war film and docu-drama, while meditating on the nature of humanity, governance, desire, technology and religion. Conflicted characterisations, ethical irresolvable scenarios, ambiguous storylines, an often-uncomfortable resonance with contemporary international events, and a filming style more cinéma vérité than Star Trek, combine in a text which demands serious academic attention. This one day event affords academics, fans and fan-academics the opportunity to consider the social, political, philosophical and artistic significance of Battlestar Galactica. Contributions are invited from researchers working in a wide range of disciplines, including film and television, fantasy, fandom, philosophy, psychoanalysis, drama, documentary and media production.

Snark aside, the fact that Galactica can support such philosophizing is the mark of good science fiction. Scifi is supposed to stimulate introspection about humanity – the futuristic setting just introduces a distance between the subject matter and the modern day, that serves to render the analyses a little more honestly in our minds.

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