APRIL 5, 2022 — The UTSA Academy of Distinguished Researchers’ Speaker Series resumes with special distinguished professor Eric Carl Link, American literary scholar and current provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at the University of North Dakota. Link will present this lecture, "Understanding Science Fiction."
UTSA faculty, staff and students are invited to this free lecture at 4 p.m. on April 7 in the Business Building (BB 2.06.04) on the UTSA Main Campus. A reception, open to all, will follow the lecture from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The Academy’s Speaker Series highlights presentations by highly accomplished researchers outside the institution in all fields of scholarly activity. A formal lecture is open to the general public in addition to featuring opportunities for interactions with faculty and students who share the speaker’s research interests.
Link’s research has focused on 19th-century and 20th-century aesthetic theory, American literary naturalism, speculative fiction, and the intersections of philosophy, science and literature.
Jeanne C. Reesman, the Jack and Laura Richmond Endowed Faculty Fellow in American Literature at UTSA, professor of English, and charter Academy member since 2015, speaks of the impact of Link’s research.
“I have followed Eric’s career and ideas closely and learned greatly from them. As fellow-scholars in Naturalism, I especially admire his influential book The Vast and Terrible Drama: American Literary Naturalism in the Late Nineteenth Century, the foundational text for a new generation of scholars concentrating on turn-of-the-century social protest writers such as Stephen Crane, Jack London, Theodore Dreiser and Frank Norris, as well as Edith Wharton, Richard Wright and today, Cormac McCarthy,” Reesman said.”
“He is also an expert in science fiction with a vast knowledge of science fiction past and present, with a book on Philip K. Dick, of Blade Runner fame, and two edited volumes with Cambridge University Press on the history and cultural contexts of science fiction,” Reesman added.
In his illustrated Academy of Distinguished Researchers lecture, Link plans to reach a broad audience with “Understanding Science Fiction.” He will deepen the subject of science fiction and its history for the UTSA audience. He answers such questions as what is science fiction? and describes the language of science fiction, including concepts as alloplastic and autoplastic societies, alterity, the novum, distance markers and cybernetics.
He will discuss the impact of contemporary techno-philosophical ideas such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and the technological singularity hypothesis on modern science fiction, and he gives a tour through many of the most common science fiction plot structures, from the alien contact story to the alternative history to the dying-earth scenario.
Link's lecture will conclude with a brief introduction to one of the greatest 20th-century science fiction writers, Philip K. Dick, with special attention paid to his short story The Electric Ant.
“Arguably, no single genre—in literature, in film, in the visual arts—has come to dominate the cultural landscape of the 21st-century more than science fiction,” Link said. “Over the last 100 years, science fiction has developed, branched out into all manner of representation, become the object of massive and diverse fandoms, and become a focus of intense academic investigation and scrutiny. It has become a kind of lens through which individuals engage their worlds and envision their collective futures.”
Established in 2015, the Academy of Distinguished Researchers fosters the highest quality of research and scholarly activity and has a continuing commitment to research excellence. The academy is chaired by Hamid Beladi, the Janey S. Briscoe Endowed Chair in Business and professor of economics, and is made up of 25 members representing a variety of disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, engineering, business, arts and sciences.
“Audiences are exposed to the thoughts and insights of some of the most prominent scholars of our time,” Beladi said. “The Speaker Series, like the Academy itself, seeks to foster and promote excellence in research, discovery, and training; advance and sustain UTSA as a premier research university; and to promote the values of research excellence, integrity, diversity, collaboration, creativity, and ingenuity.”
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The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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