9.253 Call for papers

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Tue, 24 Oct 1995 20:39:57 -0400 (EDT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 253.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)

[1] From: "Eric S. Rabkin" <esrabkin@umich.edu> (46)
Subject: Call for Eaton Conf Pprs

Please post the following call for papers. Thanks.


The 18th Annual Eaton Conference on Science Fiction and Fantasy
April 12-14, 1996
University of California, Riverside



Disease and Medicine in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Why are so many of the scientists depicted in literature medical doctors?
Why is this true even in science fiction? Brian Stableford has a possible
answer: "Medical applications of technology comprise one of the few areas
where the cutting edge of scientific research impinges directly and
intimately upon everyday human life." If SF, as Isaac Asimov says, registers
the impact of scientific progress on human beings, then medicine is
rightfully the interface science, mediating between us and It, between mind
and matter.

Medical doctors appear in myth and literature as healers or blighters.
Concerns about the possibilities and dangers of medical research surface in
nineteenth-century works like Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Rappaccini's Daughter,"
Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and H. G. Wells' The
Island of Dr. Moreau. In the modern genre, writers like Alan Nourse and
James White have explored in their novels how medical techniques might be
applied to healing alien forms of life, while Isaac Asimov's "robot
psychologist," Dr. Susan Calvin, extends the metaphor of medicine to
treating the problems of artificial intelligences. These works fruitfully
mirror our ambivalent attitudes towards doctors, those who can battle
plagues or create them, cure us or kill us; and medicine thus becomes both a
fascinating theme in its own right and a synecdoche for exploring our
ambivalent attitudes towards modern science itself. And, even as many people
today reject scientific treatment to rely of folk medicine or faith healing,
modern works of fantasy often center on strange diseases and magical healers.

The 18th Annual Eaton Conference on Science Fiction and Fantasy seeks papers
that focus on specific medical themes (infection, reproduction, or
transplantation), philosophical themes (corruption of power, mind/body
relations, the definition of human), or aesthetic questions (the symbolic
meaning of germs, the iconography of protheses) as these are reflected in
science fiction and fantasy texts, films, and other media. The conference
will be held in Riverside, California, in April, 1996. Papers or paper
proposals for this conference should be submitted to the following address
no later than February 15 1996. Late submissions may be considered up to
March 10. Contact George Slusser, Eaton Collection, Rivera Library, UC
Riverside, Riverside CA 92521 (909) 787-3233 or SLUS@ucrac1.ucr.edu.

Eric S. Rabkin esrabkin@umich.edu
Dept of English 313-764-2553: Office
Univ of Michigan 313-764-6330: Dept
Ann Arbor MI 48109-1045 313-763-3128: Dept'l Fax