at Neuberger Hall 407, English Department Lounge, Portland State University. The Portland Center for Public Humanities' Alternate Realities research group presents special guest, Rob Latham.
This talk discusses the ideological correlation between science fiction and historical countercultures, in particular the Beat movement of the 1950s and the hippie movement of the 1960s. SF’s utopian openness to change—what Brooks Landon calls its “zone of possibility”—has made it particularly alluring to social reformers and revolutionaries, and SF has also been reciprocally influenced by countercultural aspirations and social activism. The crossover between SF and the counterculture during the 1960s has been canvassed by critics, but the lines of affiliation linking the genre with the 1950s Beats has received less attention. This talk seeks to rectify that neglect through readings of selected SF texts such as Fritz Leiber’s “The Beat Cluster” (1961) and Samuel R. Delany’s "Babel-17 (1966).”
Rob Latham is professor of English at the University of California Riverside, where he co-directs the Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Program and the bienniel Eaton Science Fiction Conference. A senior editor of The Journal Science Fiction Studies since 1997, he is the author of Consuming Youth: Vampires, Cyborgs, and the Culture of Consumption (Chicago, 2002) and editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Science Fiction (2014).