November 2021 News
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Dr. Phillip Lobo and Ms. Meghan Riley have reason to celebrate. They have been awarded a Bell Grant by the Muncie Community Foundation for a collaboration in spring 2022 between Dr. Lobo’s Speculative Literature and Ms. Riley’s World Literature courses.
The collaboration examines the enriching overlap between these two literary traditions. The teaching of world literature often focuses on historical works, for good reason, but it can be difficult for students to recognize how canonical examples of world literature pertain to the increasingly global, future-oriented world in which we live. Speculative fiction, while often engaged with contemporary questions, is frequently characterized as consisting of niche genres, subject to cultural gatekeeping. In reality, speculative fiction is one of the most vital spaces of international literary production, with diverse voices addressing current global issues. While speculative fiction courses often focus on established authors and texts in order to legitimize the study of speculative fiction as serious literature, there has been a proliferation of speculative fiction by women and authors of color across the world in the past two decades. Finally, the tropes of speculative fiction – including but not limited to distant futures and alternative histories – provide opportunities to interrogate and complicate the dichotomies of “history” versus “progress,” “magic” versus “science,” and “essentialism” versus “hybridity” that global literature often addresses. Reading speculative fiction as world literature allows learners to engage with concepts in new ways. This project – which will bring together the two courses for two weeks of collaborative instruction and assignments – will address unmet needs, those of bringing currency and vitality to world literature pedagogy, and of broadening the appreciation and understanding of speculative fiction by placing it in a global, multi-cultural context.
Dr. Lobo and Ms. Riley are already looking at choices for texts and materials to purchase with the grant monies, and their plans will undoubtedly lead to vibrant and erudite scholarly discourse. It is initiatives like these that occur outside of standard expectations that enrich so many of our classes here at the Academy. Congratulations to both!