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Call for Papers

Sideways in Time: Alternate History and Counterfactual Narratives

Essay Collection

Following a highly successful two day international conference on alternate history held at the University of Liverpool and organised in conjunction with Lancaster University, the conference organisers are now seeking to supplement extended conference papers with other work in order to publish an essay collection which represents the diversity and depth of alternate history and counterfactual narrative scholarship.

Applicants should submit 500 word abstracts, a 100 word bionote, and a CV (no more than two pages in length). Please also include a list of any images you may require for your publication; it will be the author’s responsibility to secure appropriate copyright permissions for any materials included.

Final papers will be approximately 6000 words in length, although proposals for papers which are both shorter and longer will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Successful applicants will be used as part of a book proposal to an academic publisher with the intention of being included in the final collection, edited by the conference organisers Glyn Morgan (University of Liverpool) and Charul Patel (Lancaster University).

Whilst any paper on the topic of alternate history and/or counterfactual narratives will be considered, the organisers are particularly interested in abstracts for papers on the following:

  • The history of, or historical, alternate histories
  • Alternate history from outside of Britain and the USA, particularly non-English speaking cultures
  • Alternate histories by, or about, non-cisgender communities or individuals
  • Alternate histories by female authors and/or ones which engage with feminist issues
  • Papers which otherwise connect, or challenge a connection of, alternate history to another literary genre, social issue, literary theory, ideology, or discipline.
  • Alternate history outside of the novel: tv, film, graphic novels, short fiction, etc…

Deadline for abstracts: September 1st 2015, at which point a book proposal will be submitted with the aim of receiving full papers in early 2016 and publishing the collection later that year following a blind peer-review process.

Please submit abstracts and queries to sidewaysconference@gmail.com

Sideways in Time is an Alternate History Conference to be held at the University of Liverpool – in association with Lancaster University. This interdisciplinary conferences will bring together scholarship in science fiction, fantasy, historical and literary fictions, as well as historians and counterfactual thought-experiments, to discuss those fictional narratives that deals with alternate histories and parallel worlds.

We are pleased to announce Karen Hellekson as the first of our keynote speaker. Karen Hellekson is a leading authority on alternate history fiction (The Alternate History: Refiguring Historical Time, 2001).

Why Alternate History? 

Alternate History has a long and international pedigree. Whilst most cultures and literary traditions can trace their own heritage of alternate history, Alternate History arguments in the Western Canon can be traced into antiquity with Livy’s meditations on Alexander the Great. In their modern form, they emerged in France in the early 19th century before crossing into English at the latter half of the century. The form also become popular with historians and essayists, a notable early history collection being If It Had Happened Otherwise (1931) edited by John Squire which included counterfactual essays by, among others, Hilaire Belloc, Andre Maurois and Winston Churchill. It was not until H.G. Wells’s late novel Men Like Gods that the form crossed into the territory of science fiction, and was not truly popularised until Murray Leinster’s crucial story “Sidewise in Time” published in Astounding in 1934.

Since 1934, the form has become a staple of science fiction and fantasy story-telling, sometimes including time travel or magic as a means of explaining the cause of the alternate history. However, the form has also been adopted by the literary mainstream with writers who chose not to relate their alternate world to our own, instead taking the lead from conventions of historical fiction. As such, Alternate History has attracted such non-genre writers as Nabakov, Kingsley Amis, Robert Harris, Philip Roth, Michael Chabon and many more.

 

Despite a long and diverse history, alternate history has attracted surprisingly little scholarship. This conference will attempt to establish lines of communication which will rectify this deficit. It is hoped a selection of the essays presented at the conference will be made available as part of a published collection.

We are interested in papers analysing specific alternate history texts from all mediums including novels, cinema, comics and beyond. We also welcome broader papers on the various periods, subgenres, movements and modes of alternate history including steampunk, retro-futurism and more. Papers can be based on, amongst other things, theory, texts, cultural surveys, philosophy, and media studies.

Please submit a 300 word abstract to sidewaysconference@gmail.com along with a 50 word bionote by December 15, 2014.

If you have any questions or queries please contact us at: https://sidewaysintime.wordpress.com/ and join the event on Facebook.