The book series Critical Futures ↗ brings together critical perspectives on the discourses, narratives, and cultural practices that shape imaginaries of »the future.« Positioning futures as critical asks us to recognize the role of worldmaking in the face of multiple planetary crises as a matter of urgency and risk. At the same time, critical futures signify a turn towards complexity beyond the rhetoric of utopia and dystopia, mobilizing speculative modes for projects of social change and cultural critique. Drawing on intersections of fields such as the environmental humanities, speculative fiction, critical race theory, dis/ability studies, and science and technology studies, Critical Futures seeks to publish research that examines futures as a propositional and indeterminate horizon of thought that articulates the cultural entanglements of technoscientific, political, and environmental transformations.
Shaped by liberal humanism, colonial capitalism, heteropatriarchy, white supremacy, and techno-optimism, many of the futures inscribed by modern progress narratives are fraught with the power dynamics and cultural practices that lie at the root of contemporary crises. Whether with regard to literary negotiations of climate futures or artistic interventions committed to algorithmic justice, examinations of past and present futures of human-technology-environment relations are able to reveal the constellations of agency at stake in remediating the structures of Western modernity. Beyond the promises of a technological fix, what is needed are nuanced analyses of the socio-technical ramifications, ecological traces, and ideological infrastructures of how futures have been imagined and materialized, curtailed and erased.
We live in a critical moment in history, often called the »Anthropocene«, that is defined by unprecedented scales of uncertainty. Natalie Dederichs draws on insights from the new materialisms about the entangled nature of planetary existence and combines them with approaches to aesthetics from fields as diverse as reader-response criticism, phenomenology, Gothic and media studies. She introduces a poetics of atmospheric re(lation)ality as a necessary component of any ecological engagement with fiction that fully embraces literary encounters with the inaccessible and elusive as expressed in uncanny atmospheric reading experiences.
As a book series, Critical Futures engages the humanities, literature, and the arts as systems of cultural production that constitute and reflect hegemonic notions of the »human,« »nature,« »science,« »progress,« »environment« and »future,« but that also offer strategies and affective grammars of estrangement, fabulation, and resistance for envisioning worlds otherwise. What, then, does it mean to perpetuate, disrupt, or complicate modern stories and aesthetics of futuring? Invested in inclusive, decolonial, and interdisciplinary approaches, Critical Futures offers opportunities to explore the potential of literature and the arts to shift habitual ways of ordering the world, and strives to promote epistemologies, pedagogies, and ethics suited to the messy realities of more equitable and ecologically viable futures.
We invite authors who are re-reading cultural artefacts, texts, and practices that address critical future(s), who are mobilizing discourses of uneasy worldmaking in shaping their own arguments, who are willing to suspend disciplinary boundaries in order to propose experimental and explorative approaches to a self-reflexive understanding of the role of academics and artists, readers and activists in times of crisis, and who are committed to multiplying approaches and perspectives beyond ›the future‹ in the singular.
The editors of the series:
Moritz Ingwersen is Junior Professor and Chair of North American Literature and Future Studies at TU Dresden. He holds a joint PhD in Cultural Studies and English from Trent University, Ontario, and the University of Cologne and has taught at the University of Konstanz, the University of Cologne, and the University of Arts Bremen. His research and teaching focus on critical intersections of the environmental humanities, speculative fiction, science & technology studies, and North American literatures.
Solvejg Nitzke (Dr. phil.), born in 1985, is a scholar of literary and cultural studies. Her research interests are catastrophe, ecological story-telling and Science Fiction. She published among other topics on the Tunguska event and Christoph Ransmayrs poetics of time.
Regina Schober (Prof. Dr.), born in 1980, teaches American studies at the Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf. She received her dissertation from the University of Hannover in 2009 and her habilitation from the University of Mannheim in 2019. Her research focuses on literary conceptions of networks, data fiction, and the intersections of failure and knowledge. With Ulfried Reichardt, she was principal investigator of the research project »Probing the Limits of the Quantified Self«.
Jens Temmen (Dr. phil.), born 1985, teaches American studies at Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf and is a Young Fellow at the Academy of Sciences and Literature Mainz. He received his dissertation from the University of Potsdam in 2019 on a project entitled The Territorialities of US Imperialism(s) and as of a PhD Fellowship with the Research Training Group »Minor Cosmopolitanisms«. In his second book project (habilitation), he analyzes contemporary narratives of Mars colonization in US literature and culture, and the currency of these narratives within current debates on the Second Space Age and the Anthropocene.