Science Fiction and Fantasy International Conference

Messengers from the Stars: Episode VI – “Nature and Overnature in Science Fiction and Fantasy”

School of Arts and Humanities, University of Lisbon

November 26-27, 2020



Science Fiction and Fantasy are acknowledged fields of inquiry that for long have allowed us to put to the test our contemporary perceptions of the world. As privileged means to question issues of aesthetic, ethical, political, social, economic, historical and environmental nature with great impact on contemporary societies, they have also promoted cutting edge approaches and rich critical debate in literature as well as cinema, TV and videogames among other media. Given the relevance of these fields in (and out) the academic field, the University of Lisbon Centre for English Studies (ULICES) invites you to take part in the 6th International Conference Messengers From the Stars: On Science Fiction and Fantasy to be held at the School of Arts and Humanities, University of Lisbon, on November 26-27, 2020. This year, Episode VI will focus on the theme “Nature and Overnature in SF and Fantasy Discourses.”

Since Humankind’s early days, our relationship with nature has undergone different stages. From fear and antagonism to deep integration or attempt at subjugation, human beings have tried to understand their environment and make the most of it. Therefore, in this year’s conference we aim at addressing the following questions: “What is our bond with Nature? Are we part of it or are we its destroyers?”; “What will be the consequences of our former and current actions towards Nature?”;  “Are we the dominant species or is it just a human delusion?”; “What is the connection between Nature and social environment?” Also, under scrutiny is our inner nature, either as an immaterial everlasting sector or as a mutable human feature: “In distancing ourselves from Nature are we losing our (natural) humanity?”; “Are we more or less naturally human than our ancestors?”; “How has technology challenged the nature of our humanity?”; “Are we becoming over-natural?”; “Is there a universal human nature or do we embrace plural human natures?”

These are ever present themes in Fantasy narratives, as masterly explored in Tolkien’s Legendarium and C. S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles, as well as in many other 20th and 21st century authors, such as Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea cycle. They are also at the core of many SF visions, since the very beginning of the genre with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, H. G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau and John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids, to name just a few.

Inspired by these pioneering texts and fed by advances in technology, such issues have become more and more complex in Fantasy and SF literature, cinema, TV series, comics and graphic novels, music, and other art forms. Moreover, we are witnessing a turning point in our relationship with nature, the most dramatic since our existence, which has clearly raised new doubts and anxieties but also new forms of self-awareness about our role in the world. This is the time to find responsible solutions able to create a healthier future for today’s and future generations.

We welcome papers of 20 minutes as well as joint proposals for thematic panels consisting of 3 to 4 participants. Postgraduate and undergraduate students are also welcomed to participate.

Topics may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Artificial Intelligence;
  • Ecocriticism;
  • Fantasy, SF and ethics;
  • Human nature and natural environment;
  • Nature/overnature and the human body;
  • Natural and social environment;
  • Utopias/Dystopias.



Individual papers, as well as thematic panel proposals, should have 250 words maximum and be sent to along with a short biographical note (100 words maximum) by May 29, 2020.

Notification of acceptance will be sent by July 5, 2020.

Working Languages: Portuguese and English


Representations of Home 3

“Where do we carry home now?”
Shifting perceptions of home

School of Arts and Humanities, University of Lisbon
22 – 23 October 2020

[…] Kiss me, for where else
do we carry home now, Habibi,
if not on our lips?
(Zeina Hashem Beck, “Naming Things, For refugees”, September 2015)

The RHOME — Representations of Home in Literature and Culture in English project, based at the University of Lisbon Centre for English Studies (ULICES), explores representations of home and the longing to belong, as they feature in literature, the visual arts and culture. It also addresses issues of identity and belonging related to the geo-political and socio-cultural contexts of countries where English is or has become a language of communication.

In a world faced with climate challenges, migration and the resurgence of populist nationalisms, glocal responses need to be explored. The project, therefore, engages with the notion of home as multi-layered, ranging from (in)voluntary migration and exile, war and conflict, trauma, demographic evolution and climate change to the remembered, imaginary and desired home. The search for place(s), space(s) or communit(ies) of belonging may be the reason for relocation or dislocation, at the individual or group level, and for the emergence of divergent and changing meanings attached to these locations. In this process, questions arise on the shifting perceptions of home: how does one inhabit the home of an inhospitable host? How does one inhabit one’s changing body? How does one live in a foreign language? How do humans relate to the non-human?

For the next RHOME conference, which will take place in Lisbon on 22 and 23 October 2020, we invite contributions on the general theme of representations of home in literatures and cultures in English.

Possible topics to consider within this theme:

  • Home and (non)belonging
  • Home and utopia/dystopia
  • Home and (dis)location
  • Home and migration
  • Home and exile
  • Home and the refugee crisis
  • Home and nationalisms
  • Home and the body
  • Home and violence
  • Home and language
  • Home and travelling
  • Home and nature
  • Home and demographic and climate change
  • Home and the Anthropocene
  • Imaginary homes/homelands
  • Home and identity
  • Genres of testimony
  • Home, emotion and memory

Proposals of no more than 300 words, along with a bionote of 50 words, name, affiliation and 5 keywords, should be sent to by 15 April 2020 with a subject heading “RHOME 2020 submissions”. Notification of acceptance will be sent out by 1 June 2020.

As in 2017, the conference will also include a call for creative pieces (poems, short stories, memoirs, photos or films) for a reading and audio-visual session which will take place during the event.