Speculative Lunch at the Leeds Humanities Research Institute on 7 February 2018
This event brought together a wide range of participants from Leeds and York. Following an introduction by the organisers and brief presentations of their own research projects on Science Fiction, Fantasy and Utopian Texts, colleagues outlined their research interests, ranging from Tagore and political resistance, fairy tales, female mysticism, supernatural and disruptive elements in music, the posthuman, the decolonisisation of the future, to the fantastic in mainstream writing.
The discussion identified common ground in that, in the words of Ursula Le Guin, “by making realism the standard of quality, by limiting literature to it, we are leaving too much serious writing out of consideration.” In fact, ‘the fantastic is always there’, and has existed in mainstream cultural productions, eg magical realism or folk tales. This acknowledges the spiritual dimensions of our experience, including our conceptions of time, and provides us with a critical lens on (consensus?) reality.
Looking forward, there was a keen desire to explore ways to establish a research group on the transcultural fantastic, to explore our ‘utopian horizon’ through a series of Sadler Seminars in 2018/19 that would bring in experts and practitioners , explore the local history of Leeds as an epicentre of the fantastic, engage with the resources in our Special Collections in the Brotherton Library, and link with the Centre for World Literatures/Centre for World Cinemas and Digital Cultures.
Ingo Cornils (LCS/German) / Sarah Dodd (LCS/EAST) / Liz Stainforth (FAHAC)