There is a long and documented tradition of writers of African descent who employ the speculative fiction genre, chief among them is Octavia E. Butler. In addition to being awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, Butler received multiple Hugo and Nebula Awards, and in 2000 received the lifetime achievement award from the PEN American Center. Her work is among the most studied and theorized of the speculative fiction genre and is important for its trailblazing capacity. Butler’s work crosses a number of disciplines including Literature, Environmental Studies, Political Science, and even Bio-Medical Ethics. Yet, as important as her work has been for innovating academic disciplines, Butler’s literary legacy is just as important for the inspiration and enjoyment it provides to independent readers and writers of speculative fiction.
As a tribute to the life and legacy of this brilliant author, The Octavia E. Butler Society held is inaugural meeting at the 2013 American Literature Association Conference in Boston, MA. The society sponsored two events, a panel on teaching Octavia E. Butler in the academy, and a roundtable discussing the need for such a society in the academy. In keeping with the tenor of Butler’s work, the Society established itself as the site at which academics, writers, readers, and future readers of the work could all meet to preserve the legacy and life that was Octavia E. Butler.
Preserve Butler’s literary legacy by encouraging the teaching of her works in the academy and other acts of scholarly engagement
Create a space for the critical and cultural engagement of Butler’s work across all disciplines and boundaries, invite conversation and collaboration between academics and independent scholars
Create a newsletter highlighting work on Octavia E. Butler, Speculative Fiction by writers of color and Afrofuturism
Provide a resource for those teaching Butler’s work
Award a book scholarship to students working on Octavia E. Butler
President Tarshia L. Stanley, Spelman College
Tarshia L. Stanley is associate professor and Director of the Honors Program at Spelman College. She teaches courses in film and media studies particularly as it pertains to images of women of African descent. She has authored several articles critiquing Black women in African, African American, and Caribbean cinema as well as Black female iconography in American popular culture and literature. She received the A.B. from Duke University and the MA and Ph.D. from the University of Florida where she was a McKnight Doctoral Fellow.
Vice President and Secretary Matthew Mullins, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Matthew Mullins is Assistant Professor of English and History of Ideas at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the author of Postmodernism in Pieces (Oxford University Press 2016). He received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2012. He has published a range of articles and reviews in academic and public venues, and is interested in contemporary literature, literary history, Critical Race Theory, and posthumanism.
Treasurer Gregory Hampton, Howard University
Dr. Hampton received a B.A. in Economics and African-American Studies from Oberlin College; an M.A. in African-American Studies from Yale University; and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Duke University. He has published articles in the English Journal, the CLAJ (College Language Association Journal), Children’s Literature in Education: An International Quarterly, Obsidian III, and Callaloo. His most recent courses have been invested in the problematic of the black body and its portrayal in both literature and film as well as literature across cultures (African, British, Native American, Caribbean, and Asian). His book Changing Bodies in the Fiction of Octavia Butler: Slaves, Aliens, and Vampires (Lexington Books) is the first monograph of literary criticism invested in examining the complete body of fiction produced by Octavia Butler. In addition to African-American speculative fiction Hampton’s fields of interest include 19th and 20th Century American and African-American literature as well as gender studies.
Membership Chair Claire P. Curtis, College of Charleston
Claire Curtis has been teaching in the department of political science since 1998. She teaches courses on the history of political thought, contemporary liberalism, sexual harassment and utopia. She has also taught in the Honors college and for the FYE program.
Dr. Curtis earned her MA and PhD from Johns Hopkins University and her undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College. Dr. Curtis’ research interests are in utopia and dystopia and the intersections between political philosophy and fiction. She has recently published a book on postapocalyptic fiction and the social contract and is working on a project on young adult postapocalyptic fiction. She has also published on feminist utopian science fiction and is particularly interested in the work of Octavia Butler.
Publicity Chair Tananarive Due, Author
Tananarive Due is the Cosby Chair in the Humanities at Spelman College (2012-2014), where she teaches screenwriting and journalism. She also teaches in the creative writing MFA program at Antioch University Los Angeles. The American Book Award winner and NAACP Image Award recipient is the author of twelve novels and a civil rights memoir. In 2010, she was inducted into the Medill School of Journalism’s Hall of Achievement at Northwestern University.
Due has a B.S. in journalism from Northwestern University and an M.A. in English literature from the University of Leeds, England, where she specialized in Nigerian literature as a Rotary Foundation Scholar. In addition to VONA, Due has taught at the Hurston-Wright Foundation’s Writers’ Week and the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. As a screenwriter, she is a member of the Writers’ Guild of America (WGA). She was recently awarded the Life Time Achievement Award in the Fine Arts from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
Founding Vice President Consuela Francis, College of Charleston
Conseula Francis taught courses in African American literature. Her book, Conversations with Octavia Butler, was published by University Press of Mississippi in 20009 and was nominated for a 2011 Locus Award. She wrote articles on the Harlem Renaissance, race and superhero comics, fanfiction, and urban erotica.
Her teaching and research interests included black intellectual thought in the twentieth century, the African American novel, black science fiction, black romance, and comic books. She received the Ph.D. from the University of Washington.