CRSF is about bringing together the most cu

First held in 2011, CRSF is an annual postgraduate conference designed to promote the research of speculative fictions including, but not limited to, science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Our aim is to showcase some of the latest developments in this dynamic and evolving field, by providing a platform for the presentation of current research by postgraduates. The conference will also encourage the discussion of this research and the construction of crucial networks with fellow researchers.

Watch this space for upcoming CRSF news.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

CRSF: The Next Generation

Current Research in Speculative Fiction was created back in 2011 on the premise that it would be a conference designed and executed by postgraduates, for postgraduates. It is therefore appropriate that the time has come for a changing of the guard as the current team of organisers have reached the point where we are stretching the limits of that mantra. Each of us (myself, Molly Cobb, Leimar Garcia-Siino, Chris Pak) have completed our PhDs and some have even graduated, it's time for a new generation of SF scholars to step forward and take up the reigns.

And step forward they have. Beata Gubacsi, Laura Borden, Matthew McCall, and Tom Kewin are all current PhD students are the University of Liverpool pursuing varied and exciting research. Their bios have been added to the CRSF Team page here so please take a moment to read about their research and interests.

Since this is the first full scale changing of personnel the conference has undertaken, and since it involves my own stepping away as the initiator of the conference, a decision was made for the committee-that-was to take on new roles as an "executive committee", the intention being that we're here if the new guard need some advice, run into any problems, or need someone to talk to. The new organisers also don't have the mixed blessing of a part-time PhD student who is going to be a constant presence for seven years (hi!) which means that going forwards these changes of personnel are likely to become more regular, the executive committee will continue to advise and aid postgraduates in these transitions, hopefully ensuring some stability and helping the conference continue for many more years.

And continue it can. If my six years of running this conference have taught me anything its that there is an amazing depth and breadth of research being carried out in speculative fiction across the UK, and further afield. Over the years a great many scholars have come to this conference and many are now pursuing further research and teaching roles in new institutions, for many CRSF has become a highlight of the calendar and I like to think it's played an important part in creating a community for a generation of SF scholars. Long may that continue.

I have every confidence in the new team, they're a great bunch of postgrads and they understand the philosophy behind CRSF; not just by postgrads for postgrads, but also that it should be a welcoming and safe atmosphere which demands quality presentations but is also the perfect place for someone to give their first conference paper and forge connections with peers which could shape their career. Beata, Laura, Matt, and Tom get that and I am completely relaxed (perhaps too relaxed - given the time it's taken me to make this post) about the future of the Current Research in Speculative Fiction conference.

They'll be releasing a call for papers for 2017's conference very soon, and so the next post you read will be by someone else, so for now please join me in welcoming the new committee: the next generation.

Thank you and good luck,

Glyn Morgan

Monday, 4 July 2016

CRSF 2016 Post-conference Report

The sixth annual Current Research in Speculative Fiction [CRSF] conference was held last week on Monday 27th June and was a great success.

As usual the papers delivered were of a high quality and a diverse range of topics from D&D bestiaries to feminist utopia, ecological disaster to Harry Potter, medieval English horror to Japanese dystopian YA and far more besides. As usual huge thanks go to those who presented a paper: thank you for the enthusiasm with which you approached the task and for the hard work you did preparing for the conference, a conference - no matter how the organising goes - is nothing without its delegates.

If I were to pick a single weakness of the conference it would be my failure to secure a photographer with a steady hand, or a decent camera... Next year I'm bringing a tripod. Thanks to those delegates who generously suggested it was more SF-nal this way like we're beaming up, or just undergoing a time shift.

Our 2016 conference photo. Apologies for the blurriness

One thing that is evident from this photo is the quantity of attendees. CRSF 2016 represents a record year for number of delegates, with non-presenting delegates outnumbering presenters for the first time. This was in no small part thanks to the excellent Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA) conference also held in Liverpool on the 28th-30th June, a number of whose delegates came along to see CRSF in action. There were, however, a number of non-presenting delegates, including former presenters from previous years, who made the trip to Liverpool especially to see CRSF, I cannot think of a better endorsement for the atmosphere and organisation of the conference than for those who have been before to want to come back, even if they're no longer eligible to present.

In total we had fifty-six attendees and thirty papers presented, over three parallel streams, by delegates from institutions throughout the UK, as well as Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Finland, Spain, Russia, Israel, Canada, and the United States, among others.

Thank you to all who attended. Additional thanks to all those who engaged with the conference on social media. I'm a firm believer in the Twitter back channel for conferences, and CRSF performed ably in this regard too. If you're not on Twitter and you want to (re)discover the tweet-by-tweet coverage of the conference it's been conveniently archived on Storify here for you.

Thanks also to our wonderful keynote speakers: Dr. Caroline Edwards (Birkbeck University of London) and Dr. Pat Wheeler (University of Hertfordshire) who not only gave fascinating and insightful keynote lectures, but also attended numerous panels, asking insightful and constructive questions throughout, and offering many a kind and supportive word for delegates in the breaks and more informal moments of the conference. Caroline's paper opened the conference and was entitled '"But there is still such beauty": Post-Apocalyptic Fiction and Eco-Eschatological Time in the 21st-Century', it took us through such post-apocalyptic novels as Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven and Maggie Gee's The Flood, highlighting the pastoral beauty often found in these texts and the implications of that for our vision of the apocalypse and the future (if any) of humanity's role on the Earth. Pat's keynote was entitled '"She can't love you, she's just a machine': Metal-fevered Boys and their Passion for New Eves', which challenged how we should read gynoids in the twenty-first century: as either challenge or constriction to women's agency.

Thanks as ever to the University of Liverpool staff who provided support both in the build up to, and during, the conference: the Rendall Building staff, and Filomena Saltao, the Administrator of the School of the Arts, and Siobhan Quinn. Thanks also to Andy Sawyer, academic librarian for the Science Fiction Foundation collection at the University of Liverpool's Sydney Jones Library, for once again arranging for all delegates to receive free copies of Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction. Thanks also to the staff at Il Forno, our traditional restaurant of choice, who once again dealt with our large numbers with aplomb.

As always we welcome your feedback on CRSF 2016, all comments are useful and appreciated. Please leave a comment on this post, or e-mail them to us at

CRSF will return in 2017. Watch this space.

Glyn Morgan,
Molly Cobb,
Leimar Garcia-Siino,
Chris Pak

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

2016 Conference Schedule

CRSF 2016 is being held at the University of Liverpool on Monday 27th June, the planned schedule is as follows:

9:00-9:30: Registration and Refreshments

9:30-10:30: Keynote Lecture #1: Dr Caroline Edwards,
"But there is still such beauty”: Post-Apocalyptic Fiction and Eco-Eschatological Time in the 21st-Century

10:30 -12:00: First Round of Panels
1.1: Press START to Play
- Andrew Ferguson - Clipping Out of Bounds: Reading House of Leaves Through Portal
- Britanny Kuhn - Awaiting Title
- Ivaylo Shmilev - Oppression, Warfare and Transcultural Memory in the Complex Post- Apocalyptic Environments of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Game Series

1.2: Horrific Narratives
- Travis Gasque - The New Cosmic Horror: A Genre Molded by Tabletop Roleplaying Games and Postmodern Horror
- Matthew McCall - “My manez mynde to maddyng malte”: Tracing Horror in the Middle English Pearl
- Selena Middleton - Climate Collapse and the Uncontained Body in James Tiptree Jr.’s A Momentary Taste of Being

1.3: You’re Only Young Once
- Lan Ma - Censorship and Resistance: Information Control in Japanese Dystopian Young Adult Fiction in the 21st Century
- Alison Baker - Protocols for the education of young witches and wizards
- Arunima Dey - The Grotesque in the Harry Potter Series

12:00 -13:00: Second Round of Panels
2.1: Beasts and Bestiaries
- Rob O’Connor - ‘The History of All Hitherto-Existing Societies is the History of Monsters:’ The Bestiary and the Depiction of Monsters as Social Commentary
- Sandra Mänty - Representation and function of animals in the world of Harry Potter

2.2: The Greater Good
- Maxine Gee - “If something stinks put a lid on it, don’t see it”: Self-censorship and the brave new world of Psycho Pass
- Jonathan Ferguson - Crimes Against The Greater Good are Victimless Crimes?

2.3: Character Studies
- Beata Gubacsi - Monstrous Transformations: Becoming posthuman through art in Vandermeer’s Ambergris novels
- Matteo Barbagallo - Do we have a deal? Petyr Baelish, Varys, Rumpelstiltskin and their role as Doppelganger

13:00 -13:45: Lunch Break

13:45 -14:45: Keynote Lecture #2: Dr Patricia Wheeler
"She can’t love you, she’s just a machine": Metal-fevered Boys and their Passion for New Eves

14:45 -16:15: Third Round of Panels
3.1: Revenge of the Film
- Pablo Gómez Muñoz - Greening Apocalypse: Eco-Conscious Disaster in Twenty-First Century Science Fiction Cinema
- Josephine Swarbrick - Monstrous Men and Masculine Monsters: Gender and the Cyborg in Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop (1987) and José Padilha’s Robocop (2014)
- David Contreras - Gothic Surrealism in Mexican Cyberpunk Short Film: The Borderlands Strike Back

3.2: Theoretically Speaking
- Jo Lindsay Walton - The Dystopian Glimpse
- Artem Zubov - Science fiction studies and genre theory
- Pascal Lemaire - Fans of history first, fans of S-F more distantly ? Alternate History as a form of History’s fan fiction

3.3: Tell Me a Tale
- Kanta Dihal - Science and Religion in Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials
- Rina Jean Baroukh - "Your Light Has Come" : Fantasy and Reality in Shimon Adaf’s Sunburnt faces
- Laura-Marie von Czarnowsky - Re-Defining the Bildungsroman: Traumatic Journeys as a Trend in Contemporary Fantasy Fiction

16:15 -16:30: Refreshment Break

16:30 -18:00: Fourth Round of Panels
4.1: Perceptions of the Female Self
- Sonya Dyer - aPOCalypso: Janelle Monae and (Science) Fictional Black Feminisms
- Sarah Lohmann - “Solar Loyalties”: The Utopian Ethics of Posthumanism in Naomi Mitchison’s Memoirs of a Spacewoman
- Mylène Branco - The Construction of the Female Self in L.P. Hartley’s Facial Justice

4.2: Alternate Beings
- Tom Kewin - ‘A Society of Screens’: The State of Digital Surveillance and the Repercussions for the Humanist Subject
- Mattia Petricola - From mesmeric trance to living avatars: Rethinking consciousness and death after Mr Valdemar

4.3: Dystopian Time, Resurgent Space
- Gabrielle Bunn - Future Ruins: The intersection of nature and culture in the post-apocalyptic landscape of J. G. Ballard’s The Drowned World (1962)
- Hollie Johnson - Anarchy, Nostalgia, and Resistance: The Role of Nature in We, Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty-Four
- Thomas Connolly - “There was a thing called Heaven”: The end of time in Huxley’s Brave New World

18.00 -19.00: Post-Conference Wine Reception and Official Conference Group Photo

You can download a PDF of the schedule here.