Octavia Butler and Religion
Octavia E. Butler burst onto the science fiction literary scene with the publication of her first novel, The Patternmaster, in 1976. Her work continued to transform and develop the field in remarkable ways until her death in 2006. From creating worlds of powerful telepaths, alien beings looking to “trade” with humans to advance their civilization or creating a religion that fosters and encourages its followers to believe that “God is change,” Butler’s talent is astounding and groundbreaking.
In The Parable of the Sower Octavia Butler creates a new religion, Earthseed. Earthseed is based on the concept that God is change, that change is the only true constant in this world. The goal of Earthseed is to “take root among the stars.” Earthseed is a pragmatic religion that allows its followers to take active control of their lives in a way that provides them with support and community. While the concept of change runs throughout all of Butler’s work, it is in The Parable collection that she solidifies it.
This collection will explore and interrogate how religion is developed in Octavia E. Butler’s canon. We invite abstracts (300-400 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com — addressing topics that include but are not limited to the following:
- Religious imagination of Octavia Butler
- The role of religion in Butlerian world-making, community-building, envisioning the divine
- Teaching Octavia Butler in the religion classroom
- Cults, Fanaticism and Religion
- Folklore and Mythology
- Multidisciplinary and interfaith approaches to sermonizing and preaching
- Cult of the Occult
- Role of religion in post-human, non-human bodies, metamorphosis and hybridity, monstrosity and the fantastic in Butler
- Religious beliefs and practices in alternative concepts of subjectivity including gender, sexuality, species, etc.
- Liberation narratives related to or inspired by religions around the world
- Visual Culture: Butlerian images/embodiments and the Transcendent
- Sacred Texts
Abstracts are due by July 1, 2018. Please email abstracts as word documents to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Those folks chosen to participate in the collection will be notified by August 15th with a final draft due March 15th.
CFP: Octavia Butler Companion
Call for Papers:
Editors Gregory J. Hampton (Howard University) and Kendra R. Parker (Hope College) are seeking submissions for The Bloomsbury Companion to Octavia E. Butler. This book will be a collection of literary criticism and theory by an international range of contemporary scholars exploring major themes across the full span of Octavia Butler’s writing.
We welcome essays that survey past and current scholarship on Butler; however, we are most interested in work that will point forward to new directions and new agendas in Butler scholarship on both domestic and international levels.
Broad topics for submission include:
- Slavery to Social Justice
- Teaching Butler’s Fiction
- Critical Disability Studies and Octavia E. Butler
- Environmental Studies
- Posthumous Research
Abstracts of no more than 500 words and a brief CV should be emailed to Gregory J. Hampton (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Kendra R. Parker (email@example.com) as a Microsoft Word document no later than October 1, 2017. Invitations for full papers will be sent by November 15, 2017, and completed essays (6,000-8,000 words) are expected by May 14, 2018.
CFP: Afrofuturism in Time and Space
Co-editors Isiah Lavender III and Lisa Yaszek seek essays on black speculative art across centuries, continents, and cultures for a new collection called “Afrofuturism in Time and Space.” When Mark Dery coined the term “Afrofuturism” in 1993 to describe art that explores issues of science, technology, and race from technocultural and science fictional perspectives, he did so primarily in reference to postwar African-American art, music, and literature. Over the past decade, however, scholars and artists alike have begun to redefine Afrofuturism, pushing its temporal boundaries back to the 17th-century roots of modern science and industry while expanding its geographic boundaries to include diasporic black and pan-African speculative fictions. As editors, we seek scholarly essays and artists’ case statements that demonstrate how to productively rethink Afrofuturism as a globe-spanning tapestry of creative voices and aesthetic practices linking historic African American, contemporary black Atlantic, and pan-African authors together in provocative new ways. That is to say, we are looking both backward through history and outward from the U.S. At the same time, we also welcome works that treat what we might now call “classic” Afrofuturist authors and themes from new methodological perspectives. While we, of course, welcome proposals on Samuel R. Delany, Octavia E. Butler, and Nalo Hopkinson, we also seek essays that address:
• Early African American literature
• Slave narratives and neo-slave narratives
• Jim Crow and Apartheid
• Poetry, film, graphic narrative, and sonic fictions
• Black Atlantic and other black diasporic aesthetic traditions
• Pan-African and regional African speculative fictions
• Little-known artists, understudied artists, emerging artists, and mainstream artists working with Afrofuturist themes
• Occult or native scientific practices as they inform Afrofuturist texts
The editors invite submissions that respond to the focus of the volume and also welcome general inquiries about a particular topic’s suitability. Please submit 250 word abstracts, a working bibliography, and a brief CV electronically as MS Word attachments to Isiah Lavender III at firstname.lastname@example.org and to Lisa Yaszek at email@example.com by July 30, 2016.
Accepted articles should be between 5000 and 6500 words in length, including “Works Cited,” and prepared in MLA style, and forwarded as MS Word attachments.
OCTAVIA E. BUTLER: CELEBRATING LETTERS, LIFE, and LEGACY
February 26-28, 2016
Registration for the Conference is now open. All attendees must register for the conference. All panelists and presenters must also be members of the OEB Society by December 1, 2015. Click here to join the society. Click here to register.
Registration Late/On site
1 Feb – Feb 28
Graduate Student $75
Undergraduate/ ( Fees waived if waiver request received High school prior to February 20, 2016. Email the Society.)
February 24, 2016 will mark the tenth anniversary of the passing of Octavia E. Butler. To commemorate her contributions to the world of letters, the Octavia E. Butler Society solicits papers for a special conference to be hosted by Spelman College February 26-28, 2016. The Society welcomes proposals of 250 words focused on any aspect of Butler’s life, work, and influence. Because a major goal of the Society is to encourage the teaching of her works in the academy and beyond, we also invite submissions addressing approaches to teaching Butler in any pedagogical environment. Panel proposals are also encouraged. This inaugural conference is especially geared toward conversation and collaboration so submissions that move beyond the traditional conference paper are also welcome. Please submit proposals to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, September 21, 2015.
The Octavia E. Butler Society is working on a panel for the 2016 MLA Convention. If you are interested in submitting an abstract, please see the call below:
10 Years Gone: Octavia E. Butler’s Public Legacy
We invite papers discussing Butler’s impact on her reading public: book clubs, literary societies, social justice movements, etc. 250 word abstracts/short bios by 15 March 2015; Tarshia Stanley (email@example.com)
Octavia E. Butler Society American Literature Association 26th Annual Conference May 21-24, 2015Octavia E. Butler Societycontact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Octavia E. Butler Society invites abstracts (of no more than 300 words) for presentations at the annual conference of the ALA (http://alaconf.org/annual-conference/). Please note that we can only accept proposals for individual papers and will not be able to accept proposals for entire panels.
We invite paper proposals on Octavia Butler and all aspects of her work. We particularly invite papers on Fledgling, as 2015 marks the 10th anniversary of that novel.
Please send abstracts to Conseula Francis (email@example.com) by January 2, 2015. Please adhere to the following format: 1. Identify email subject as follows: OEB Submission 2015 – [Your Last Name]; 2. Save Abstracts as Word Doc and include Name, Bio, Paper Title and Abstract within the word.doc.
Presenters must be members of the Octavia E. Butler Society by the time of the conference. Information about the Society can be found at the OEB website: https://oebsociety.wordpress.com
2014 Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium: Sounding Futures
University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, September 3-5, 2014
Call for Papers
“The future is always here in the past” -Amiri Baraka, “Jazzmen: Diz & Sun Ra”
“We will make our own future Text” -Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo
The Guelph Jazz Festival, in conjunction with the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, the University of Guelph, and the SSHRC funded International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) invites proposals for presentations at our annual three ‐ day international interdisciplinary conference. This year’s colloquium will take place September 3rd to 5th as part of the 21st annual Guelph Jazz Festival (September 3-7). It will bring together a diverse range of scholars, creative practitioners, arts presenters, policy makers, and members of the general public. Featuring workshops, panel discussions, keynote lectures, performances, and dialogues among researchers, artists, and audiences, the annual colloquium cuts across a range of social and institutional locations and promotes a dynamic international exchange of cultural forms and knowledges.
In celebration of the centennial of musician, bandleader, and Astro-black philosopher Sun Ra’s arrival on planet earth, and in keeping with Ra’s use of music as a way to envision – and indeed to create – other possible futures, this year’s colloquium asks, What does your future sound like? How might jazz and improvised music offer ways into other and future realities? One of the legacies of Ra’s lifework has been the fusion, in his own performances and compositions, of Egyptian iconography with sounds, texts, and imagery of space travel and technology. The mid-1990s saw Marc Dery and other scholars formalize this aesthetic vision around the term “Afrofuturism.” As Dery has put it, “African American voices have other stories to tell about culture, technology and things to come. If there is an Afrofuture, it must be sought in unlikely places, constellated from far-flung points.” From the Afrofuturism of the Sun Ra Arkestra and the “sonic fiction” of Kodwo Eshun, to the Afro Science fiction of Octavia Butler, to the recent work of artists such as Nicole Mitchell and the works of feminist and other visionary thinkers, to other multiple and hybridized notions of futurity, music and sound have long been vital focal points for social movements and utopian imaginings.
In his Foreword to a special issue on Technologies and Black Music in the Americas of the Journal of the Society for American Music, George E. Lewis asks, “what can the sound tell us about the Afrofuture? How can we develop a new theoretical and descriptive language that both complements and exceeds the purview of the terms ‘music,’ ‘sound,’ and ‘listening’”? This year’s colloquium seeks to extend this line of questioning by focusing on the “other stories” that might be sounded about the future through jazz and improvisatory artistic practices. Possible topics might include (but are not limited to) the place of Afrofuturism and other liberatory sono-futurist movements in the historical narrative of jazz and improvised music, the ways in which other artistic mediums (literature, theatre, dance, visual art) grapple with the sound of future-making, how minoritized and subjugated communities embrace creative technologies and future visions in their expressive output and cultural production. We also invite papers and presentations on the lifework of Sun Ra.
We are particularly interested in interdisciplinary work that speaks to both an academic audience and a general public. We welcome presentations in a range of creative and unconventional formats, including but not limited to dance, theatre, spoken word, music, multi-media, and film. What might it be like, for example, to exemplify the sound of the future through concrete samplings of different forms of musical practice that herald new directions in improvised musicking? Please indicate the format of your presentation and any technical or other resources required. We also invite presenters to submit completed versions of their papers to our peer ‐ reviewed journal, Critical Studies in Improvisation/Études critiques en improvisation (www.criticalimprov.com) for consideration.
Please send (500 word) proposals (for 15 minute delivery) and a short bio by May 31, 2014 to: The 2014 Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium c/o Dr. Ajay Heble, Artistic Director, The Guelph Jazz Festival email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A new volume in the MLA Approaches to Teaching World Literature series is being proposed: Approaches to Teaching the Works of Octavia E. Butler, edited by Tarshia L. Stanley.
You don’t need to be a member of MLA to access the survey. Please click on the link to visit the survey and share your experiences teaching Butler’s work in the classroom. You may also propose an essay to contribute to the collection.
- The OEB Society is calling for founding members to join the society. Please visit the membership page for details.
The Society created a group at MLA Commons titled Octavia Butler. If you are a member of the Modern Language Association join our group on the commons and discuss the ways you are using Octavia Butler in the classroom.
- Inspired by the 20th anniversary of Mark Dery’s 1994 essay “Black to the Future,” in which he coins the term Afrofuturism, The Octavia E. Butler Society will host the following panels at the American Literature Association Conference in Washington, D.C., May 22-25, 2014. (tentative scheduling)
Octavia Butler in Conversation
Organized by the Octavia E. Butler Society
Chair: Conseula Francis, College of Charleston
1. “‘It’s your body’: Kindred’s Black Liberalism and the Logic of Contract,” Bryan Conn, University of North Texas
2. “Afronauttes Rising on a Thousand Plateaus: Butler, Hopkinson, Okorafor and the New Black Heroine,” Joe Love, Saint Louis University
3. “Afrofuturist Tempo-rality in the Work of Erykah Badu, Janelle Monáe, and Gayl Jones,” Kristen Lillvis, Marshall University
4. “Reading Aimé Césaire with Octavia Butler: A Tempest and Discourse on Colonialism as Science Fiction Narratives of Aliens Invasion,” Gregory Hampton, Howard University
Octavia Butler: Challenging Ideology/Reshaping Critical Frameworks
Organized by the Octavia E. Butler Society
Chair: Gregory Hampton, Howard University
1. “In the Name of Change: Prophecy and Redemption in the Fiction of Octavia Butler,” Clarence W. Tweedy, University of Mary Washington
2. “Backward-Looking Futures: Horizons of Change in Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower,” Matthew Mullins, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
3. “The Gene Trade: Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis series and the New Eugenics,” Deanna Gross Scherger, Saddleback College
4. Therí A. Pickens, Bates College
- The OEB Society sponsored a panel at the Utopian Studies Conference in Charleston, SC November 2013, entitled Race/Ethnicity in Film and Literature.