From Eaton/SFRA and into the Future

Thursday, 18 April 2013 22:51

My time at the Eaton/SFRA conference last week was well spent. After almost cancelling my trip (due to a heavy workload), I am so glad that I stuck to my plans and made the journey to Riverside, California. As an Independent Scholar, I was in good company: there were many inspiring papers by non-traditional scholars that held their ground with those by senior academics. My own presentation, “Reading Disability in Star Trek (focusing on the last TNG movie, Nemesis) was an overall success. I am extremely pleased that I was able to demonstrate the productive possibilities of bringing Disability Studies (DS) together with science fiction. Genre studies in general can really benefit from a framework that interrogates the dis/abled body. Every time I had a conversation about addressing disability in SF with someone who had not previously thought about it in any depth, we both came away with new ideas to flesh out and texts to read. I only hope that I continue being a worthy ambassador of DS in the academic SF community.

I also have a renewed motivation to seriously start the research process for my planned monograph (which is, of course, fancy talk for “book”). From my plane ride down to the late night hours after the closing banquet, I was challenged by insightful questions and pushed to think about temporality and disability (the broad topic of my interest) in ways that I hadn’t yet considered. Between ICFA last month and Eaton/SFRA this one, I’ve truly had the full conference experience. I am already looking forward to the SF: The Interdisciplinary Genre at McMaster in September (fingers crossed my paper is accepted, but I will attending either way).

Without a doubt, I am on the right path. Do I know where that path leads yet? No. But I am so happy to find myself in a community of people who are supportive and excited about my scholarship. And I have made new friendships over the past year that have helped fill a gap in my life that has been there for too long. When I was ill during my graduate studies, it felt as if my peer community disappeared. The loss that I experienced at that time was incredibly painful and I have been searching for a place to belong since then. SF has become that home for me.

Since I can’t afford to go to WisCon or WorldCon this year (sniffle), I’m going to make an extra effort to keep in contact with my new SF community on line (through guest blogging—give me a shout if you want me on your blog—and Twitter and emails). I’ll use this extended period of time at home to keep writing about SF as I grow my academic coaching and copyediting business. For the first time since I finished my PhD, I feel like I have a productive and positive direction in my career life. There are actual things to do (that I love doing)! There are clients to help and book reviews to be written. There are deadlines to meet and book launches to throw and films to see (looking at you Star Trek: Into Darkness). This year is off to a great start. Next project please!

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