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UCR Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Program hosts April 30 event

By on April 10, 2014

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UCR will celebrate Latinos in science fiction in April 30 event.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Program at University of California, Riverside will host “A Day of Latino Science Fiction” on Wednesday, April 30. The event, which be held in the Interdisciplinary Symposium Room (INTS 1113), is free and open to the public.

The daylong event begins at 10 a.m. Parking permits may be purchased at the kiosk at the University Avenue entrance to the campus.

Science fiction is a more diverse literature than is generally acknowledged and includes a vibrant tradition of Latino science fiction writers, said Sherryl Vint, professor of English and a science fiction studies scholar.

“Latino science fiction conveys a distinctive vision of the influence of science and technology on daily life, and connects with a strong tradition of speculative writing from Latin America,” she explained. “Our event will foster discussion of the specific ways Latino writers negotiate science fiction’s relationship to the colonialist imagination, and its possibilities for imagining more ethnically inclusive futures.”

“A Day of Latino Science Fiction” will kick off with a morning author panel featuring Mario Acevedo, Rudy Ch. García, Ernest Hogan, Beatrice Pita, and Rosaura Sánchez.

Author of the Felix Gomez detective-vampire series, Acevedo has served as artist-in-residence for Arte Americas, a cultural arts and education center in Fresno, an art instructor at Avenal State Prison, a combat artist during Operation Desert Storm in Iraq, and the organizer of several art fundraisers for animal rescue groups.

Garcia, co-founder of and contributor to La Bloga, is perhaps best known for his alternate reality/fantasy novel “The Closet of Discarded Dreams,” which took honorable mention in the International Latino Book Awards’ Fantasy/Sci-Fi category in 2013.

Author of “Cortez on Jupiter,” “High Aztech,” and the cyberpunk novel “Smoking Mirror Blues,” Hogan has also worked as a consultant, illustrator, and cartoonist.

Co-authors of “Lunar Braceros 2125-2148,” Sánchez is a professor and Pita is a lecturer in the Department of Literature at University of California, San Diego.

Following lunch and informal discussion, a short film screening and panel titled “Latinos in Hollywood and Beyond” will take place, featuring Jesús Treviño, writer and director of “Star Trek: Voyager,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “SeaQuest DSV,” and “Babylon 5”; Michael Sedano, La Bloga Latino literature blogger; and UCR Ph.D. candidates Danny Valencia, Rubén Mendoza and Paris Brown, who will address the topics of Latino science fiction, SF as pedagogy in Latino communities, and Mexican dystopias and religion, respectively.

The event will culminate in the donation of Treviño’s papers to UCR Libraries’ Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy, the world’s largest publicly accessible collection of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and utopian literature, which is housed in Special Collections & University Archives in the Tomás Rivera Library. The donation ceremony will followed be immediately by an interview with the writer and director.

The UCR Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Program is indebted to the Department of English; Tomás Rivera Chair in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS); Eaton Collection, UCR Libraries; Department of Comparative Literature; Department of Media and Cultural Studies; and Mellon Science Fiction Group, Center for Ideas and Society for their generous sponsorship of what promises to be a highly engaging and productive day of artistic and cultural exchange, Vint said.

About the UCR Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Program

The Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies (SFTS) program at UC Riverside began in 2007 when CHASS Dean Stephen Cullenberg  decided that the college should have an academic unit to complement the strength of the Eaton Science Fiction Collection in the UCR Libraries, Vint said.

Rob Latham, professor of English and senior editor of the journal Science Fiction Studies, joined the faculty in 2008 to launch the program. Author Nalo Hopkinson, professor of creative writing, followed in 2010, and Vint, a science fiction and technoculture studies scholar, joined the Department of English in 2012. Their appointments complement existing SFTS strengths among CHASS faculty in a range of departments.

Drawing on faculty from across the college, the SFTS program enables students to develop a critical understanding of the cultures of science and their dialectical exchanges with contemporary popular culture. The program currently offers a designated emphasis at the Ph.D. level and soon will offer an undergraduate minor. The curriculum encompasses courses in the social study of science and medicine, the history of technology, creative expression addressing relevant themes, cultural analysis of print and media texts dealing with science and technology, and the cultural differences in technology, including non-western scientific practices.

The SFTS program regularly holds symposia and panels and hosts invited scholars and visitors. For more information or to be added to the SFTS event listserv, please visit www.sfts.ucr.edu.

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