Icecaps are melting. Seas are rising. A pandemic rages. Racism is endemic. Fires burn. Poverty flourishes. Authoritarians rule. At a time of widespread skepticism toward science, and when leaders sow distrust in facts and truth, it is more difficult than ever to think of the future in affirmative ways. For intellectuals on the right and the left, the future can conjure visions of the end of history, or the sense that there is “no future.” In the face of these challenges, can we imagine alternatives?
Artists, writers, and theorists continue to imagine different worlds, as do progressive social movement activists. Participants in the worldwide citizens’ movement for social change and global justice proclaim, “Another World Is Possible.” Feminists and queer people have often been at the forefront of these dissident struggles, imagining alternative pathways to the future. Futures and futurity have often been understood in relation to linear notions of time, and understandings of progress. But queer theorists challenge normative teleology and as theorist José Esteban Muñoz put it, “The future is queerness’s domain.” Perhaps we need new conceptualizations of time and space that imagine futures in alternative ways. Visual theorist Tina Campt suggests that we “imagine beyond current fact to envision that which is not but must be.”
The 2021-2022 IRW Seminar takes “Futures” as its theme. We invite applications from faculty and advanced graduate students (ABD status required) whose projects explore aspects of our theme. Such studies may examine any time period(s) or geographical location(s) and be rooted in any disciplinary or interdisciplinary approach(es). Some possible topics relevant to the seminar theme include, but are not limited to:
- Climate change and environmental futures
- Abolitionist futures
- Afrofuturism and Afropessimism
- Digital technology and the future of work
- Education after Covid-19
- Liberal democracies: rethinking “the end of history”
- Technoscience and reproductive futurism
- Indigenous futures
- Speculative fictions and alternative histories
- Contingency, teleology, and history
- Myths of progress
- Alternative modes of collecting data and measuring futures
- Queer temporalities
Individuals from all disciplines, schools, and programs on all Rutgers campuses are welcome to apply. We also welcome proposals from Rutgers-based writers and activists.
The seminar will support up to eight Rutgers Faculty Fellows and up to four Graduate Fellows from the New Brunswick, RBHS, Camden, and Newark campuses. Seminar fellows are expected to attend all Thursday morning seminar meetings during Fall and Spring Semesters 2021-2022, provide a paper for discussion in the seminar, and open a seminar session with an extended response to another scholar’s paper.
Graduate students will receive a $5,000 stipend for the year as seminar fellows. Faculty fellows will receive either $4,000 in research support or a one-course teaching release for one semester to enable them to participate in the year-long seminar. In the latter case, departments will be reimbursed for instructional replacements at the minimum contractual PTL rate. Financial arrangements will be made in advance of the seminar with the department chairs and/or appropriate deans.