Ghosts of Futures Past: Science Fiction, Retro and Retrofuturism

Lecture by Paweł Frelik – Associate Professor, Department of American Literature and Culture / Director, Video Game Research Center – Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Poland. 

The prefix “retro-” has been used in recent decades very liberally, and not least so as part of retrofuturism. Definitions of the latter term abound, but Frelik would like to propose that it is most productively understood as a visual practice that specifically exploits the tensions between the notions of futurity from our historical past – either actual predictions or fictions of the time – and the notions of futurity expressed in contemporary film, television, video games, comics, and other visual media.

Using selected examples from a range of audiovisual media, the talk will outline retrofuturistic parameters,  provide examples of texts that consciously retrofuturism’s visual rhetoric, and suggest the cultural functions of sf’s retro mode, major among which is its expression of a sense of the generic identity and its proffer of a tool of ideology critique. 

This event is held in cooperation with Aniara - the Science fiction and Fantasy association at the University of Oslo (UiO).

The event is streamed live

About the lecturer

Paweł Frelik is Associate Professor in the Department of American Literature and Culture at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University (Lublin), Director of the Video Game Research Center at MCSU, and Visiting Professor of Audiovisual Culture at the American Studies Center, University of Warsaw. In the Spring 2017, he was Visiting Professor of Science Fiction at Florida Atlantic University (USA).

His research interests include science fiction, video games, fantastic visualities, digital media, and transmedia storytelling. He has published widely in these fields, serves on the advisory boards of Science Fiction Studies, Extrapolation, and Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds, and is the co-editor of the New Dimensions in Science Fiction book series at the University of Wales Press.

In 2013-2014, he was President of the Science Fiction Research Association, the first in the organization’s history from outside North America. He is also Vice-President of the European Association for American Studies and the Science Fiction Literature Division Head of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. He is the 2017 Thomas D. Clareson Award winner for the service to the field and its first recipient from outside the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain.

His new book Visual Cultures of Science Fictions (Universitas) came out in 2017 with the significantly expanded English version coming in 2018. He’s currently at work on more writing than is good for him, including three book projects: on science fiction video games; the Mass Effect science fiction gaming franchise; with Ritch Calvin, on science fiction short film; and, last but not least, on a book on Stanisław Lem for the Modern Masters of SF series (University of Illinois Press). 


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Published Oct. 31, 2017 10:18 AM - Last modified Nov. 6, 2017 11:03 AM