Journal Issue

“Uncertain Futures”: A Special Issue of the Canadian Review of American Studies

Note: This CFP is only open to presenters who attended “Uncertain Futures,” the 2017 conference of the Canadian Association for American Studies, held at OCAD University in Toronto.

In her introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin proposes that “the future, in fiction, is a metaphor” (vi). In uncertain times, “the future” acts as the projection screen for our anxieties about the fraught present and unresolved past, and the resulting metaphors – our fantasies – reveal the ideological structures of our contemporary moment. “Science fiction is not predictive,” Le Guin writes. “It is descriptive” (vii).

The emerging realities of climate change, species collapse, perpetual fundamentalist and extremist aggression, resource scarcity, forced mass migration, accelerating economic inequality, and the global wave of populist nationalism manifested in the United States by the inauguration of President Donald Trump have made “the future” a pressing topic. In this respect, the questions we will ask in this special issue of CRAS are timely, but they also represent a well-established line of thinking in American Studies. Drawing on recent research in Anthropocene studies, queer theory, Indigenous studies, science fiction studies, political economy, critical race theory, feminist theory, ecocriticism, and related fields, the authors in “Uncertain Futures” will provide broadly interdisciplinary and intersectional analyses of the ideological functions that underwrite our current projections of the future in American politics and culture.

This special issue’s theme invites participants to inquire into the historical origins of American anxieties about the future, and to throw light on how past Americans have used “the future” to project and address uncertainties about their own eras. It also provokes discussions of the contemporary uncertain future of the United States in the twenty-first century. What does the future look like for Americans and observers of American culture today? In an age of fractured politics, environmental devastation, neoliberal innovation, and deadly imperialism, what hope can the future hold? And what insight can American Studies provide about the role of uncertainty and futurity in our daily lives?

We invite 500-word article proposals to be submitted by March 15th, 2018. Papers that are selected for inclusion in the special issue should be 5000-7000 words in length, and must be submitted by September 15th, 2018. All essays will then be sent out for peer review. Please send abstracts and inquiries to the special issue editors, Ross Bullen (rbullen@faculty.ocadu.ca) and Mary Eileen Wennekers (mwennekers@faculty.ocadu.ca).

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