"Demanding the Impossible: Third Utopias Conference" starts today in Melbourne

“In December 2001 the University of Tasmania hosted a successful conference around the theme of Antipodean Utopias.

“In December 2005, Monash University hosted a second conference, around the theme of Imagining the Future, to mark the long-awaited publication of Archaeologies of the Future, Fredric Jameson’s full-length monograph on utopia and science fiction. In all, there were something like 90 papers presented to this conference, including one by Jameson himself.

“This third conference will return to the question of how we imagine the future and whether such imaginings remain open to the unforeseeable. Jameson famously concludes that utopia is ‘a meditation on the impossible, on the unrealizable in its own right’. Hopefully, the conference will play some small part in prompting similar such meditations on the impossible. Its keynote speakers will be: Terry Eagleton, whose recent publications include After Theory, Sweet Violence and Holy Terror; Tom Moylan, author of Demand the Impossible and Scraps of the Untainted Sky; Lyman Tower Sargent, founding editor of Utopian Studies and co-editor of The Utopia Reader; and Lucy Sussex, author of A Tour Guide to Utopia.”

Conference programme includes:

Opening by Prof. Rae Francis, Dean of Arts, Monash University

Tom Moylan– Making the Present Impossible: On the Vocation of Utopian Science Fiction

Verity Burgmann – Utopian Socialism: the Australian Experience

A. B. Carretero & Carmen Morales– Dialogic Philosophy, Participative Communication and Utopia

R.J. Imre & B. Patterson– Interstellar Relations: The Westphalian Planet-State

Paul Cheung – Of Cats, Coincidence and Continuity: Utopias with Chinese Characteristics?

Kong Xinren – A Belief Lies in Future: Recent Chinese History Science Fiction

Louise Katz– No Man’s Land and Everyman’s Land: The Ideal Meets the Real in Israel/Palestine

Craig Johnson – Cities from Scratch

Roberto González-Casanovas – Aztec Sacrifice as Dystopia in Colonial vs. Postcolonial Discourse: Cultural Politics in Competing Mythologies of Conquest

Hester Joyce– Lost hope: Pakeha (white settler) anxieties in The Quiet Earth and The Navigator

Peter Marks– Screening the Future: Surveillance and Utopian Projections

Jaroslav Kušnír– Game, Fantasy and Sci-Fiction in Damian Broderick´s novel Godplayers

Mahrokh Hosseini– Elements of Fantasy in Margareth Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale vs. Science Fiction

Chris Palmer– Ambiguous, Unsettled and Unconvincing Dystopias in Recent Fiction

Simon Sellars– Zones of Transit: J.G. Ballard’s Pacific Utopias

Lucian Chaffey– Chaodyssey and annihilation: Farscape’s wormholes and black holes

Chien-fu Hsueh– A Route in-between: The Functions of Travel in Thomas More’s Utopia

Evie Kendal– How the Author is alive and kicking in Utopian “social-science-fiction”

David Jack– Scared Old World: Allegories of Catastrophe in Huxley’s Brave New World

Thomas Ford– Demands and Impossibility: Bureaucracy and Utopia

Christopher Yorke– Utopia and the Death of Virtue

Matthew Chrulew– Heterotopian Science Fiction: Nature and Technology

R. Cunneen– Difficulties with Reading Utopias: The Case of M.B. Eldershaw’s Tomorrow

Kalinda Ashton– History and Amnesia in Amanda Lohrey’s The Reading Group

Lyman Tower Sargent – What would a truly comparative utopian scholarship require?

Jacqueline Dutton– Comparative Mythology

Roberto González-Casanovas – Utopian and Dystopian Typologies of Arawaks vs. Caribs: Relativising Cannibals in Colonial Myth and Postcolonial Critique

Terry Eagleton– Utopia and the New Testament

Will Douglas – The Discontinuity of Possibility and our Hopes for the Future in Last and First Men

Matthew Ryan– The Dystopian rendering of Ideology and Utopia in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road

Chris Palagy– Circumventing Dystopia: The Grand Inquisitor Fails

Michael Kulbicki– Iain M Banks, Utopia, and Critical Hope

David Farnell– The Morality of Preemptive Regime Change in Iain M. Banks’ The Player of Games

Dougal McNeill– James Kelman: Utopias of Form

Claire Henry – Madame X and Girl King on the High Seas of Lesbian Separatist Utopia

Linda Wight – Feminist Utopia or Masculinist Dystopia?

Helen Merrick – Doing science differently? Visions of feminist scientists

Raymond A Younis– The Wheel of Time/Places of Refuge / (Utopian Imaginaries East and West)

Krishna Barua– “The oceanic circle”: Mahatma Gandhi’s and his Ram rajya

Geoffrey Berry – Ecocentric mythopoeia and the absolute aegis of adaptation

Leonard Wilcox– Don DeLillo’s Dystopia: Postmodern Capitalism in Cosmopolis

Wei-Yun Yang– Re-imagination of Galactic Empires: Doris Lessing’s Shikasta and The Sirian Experiments

Zachary Kendal – The Dystopia of Urth: The Myth of Pandora in Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun

Thomas Reuter– Arriving in the Future: The Utopia of Here and Now

Stefan R. Siebel– Basic Income: An Economic Utopia and its Reality Around the World

Ben Hoh– “What if the World was Made of Wood?”: The apocalyptic utopianism of blogging geopolitical trauma

Luke Howie– Images and the Monster Within

Alec Charles– The flight from history: British television’s most enduring fantasy

H. Gardner & S. Schmidt– Autopias

Hyijin Lee– Pythagorian utopianism and numerology

Joan Roelofs– The Considerant Manifesto

Dimitris Vardoulakis – Utopia and Suicide in Aris Alexandrou The Mission Box

Rob Baum– Gender dystopia in the Far/Middle East: An Artful Experimen

Angela Yiu – Utopian Schemes in Japan from the 1910s to 1930s

Christopher Yorke – Utopia ex nihilo: Ando Shoeki and the Heresy of Physiocracy in Edo-Era Japan

Lucy Sussex– A Tour Guide in Utopia

Julia Vassilieva – On Imagination, Energy and Excess:The Lasting Legacy of Eisenstein’s Utopias

Rachel Torbett – The Silence Afterwards: Lyotard with Haneke’s “Le Temps du Loup”

Claire Perkins – Your Friends and Neighbours: Recent Suburban Utopias

Kate Rigby– Apocalypse Now: Whither Utopianism in the Midst of Catastrophe?

David Fonteyn– Tourmaline : A meditation on Thanatos, Eros and Fertility

Chris Coughran– Ecology, Eutopia, and the Everted Sphere of the Future

Darren Jorgensen– Utopia as Failed Revolution: Ursula Le Guin and Louis Marin after 1968

Jacqueline Dutton– The Worst Place in the World: French Women’s Writing on Australia in 2007

Bill Metcalf – The Encyclopedia of Australian Utopian Communalism

Julie Kelso– ‘Radical Heterosexuality’ in the Song of Songs: Meditating on the Impossibility of the Love that Cannot Speak Its Name

Sarah Curtis – Evangelical Utopianism as a Hysteric Symptom

Blair McDonald– Finitude’s War: Returning to the Question

Simon Robb– ‘What do you think, children are psychics?’

Pip Stokes – Care of Place

Robyn Walton – Wyndham Lewis, Frank Lloyd Wright: Re-imagining Baghdad and London

Rudolphus Teeuwen– Losing the War, Winning Utopia: Christian Friedrich Weiser and Germany, 1918

A. Milner & R. Savage– Pulped Dreams: Utopia and American Pulp Science Fiction

Oleksandr Golozubov – From Abbey Telem to Animal Farm: spectrum of the comic forms in the European Utopia

Darren Jorgensen– The Dreamtime as a Modern Utopia

Hester Joyce – New Zealand Cinema and Expressions of Utopia

Keynote Address – Chair: Andrew Milner

Lyman Tower Sargent – Australia as Dystopia and Eutopia

Refereed proceedings of the conference will be published electronically in the on-line journal Colloquy.


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About Jay Babcock

I am the co-founder and editor of Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curator of the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was one of five Angelenos listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. Today, I live a peaceful life in the rural wilderness of Joshua Tree, California, where I am a partner in JTHomesteader.com with Stephanie Smith.

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