Paul March Russell on science fiction

Dr Paul March Russell, Lecturer in the Department of Comparative Literature, contributed a paper during a special session of the Modern Language Association (MLA) conference in Chicago. The event set out with the purpose of re-examining science fiction’s relation to modernist writing and positioning science fiction as a modernist project, participants explored various perspectives on the formal and stylistic exchanges between modernism and science fiction and asked what common aesthetic and political motivations are shared by the literary modes.

For his session, which discussed modernism in science fiction, Paul discussed two recent novels – Nicola Barker’s H(A)PPY and Cathrynne M. Valente’s Radiance – in relation to the concept of ‘metamodernism’ (contemporary writing that treats modernism variously as an era, a style or an archive). Here, Paul emphasised the importance of reading both modernism and contemporary iterations in relation to their generic others.

Paul has also contributed a chapter to the recent publication Cambridge History of Science Fiction. Paul’s chapter, on ‘Science Fiction, Modernism and the Avant-Garde’, examines the science-fictionality of several avant-garde responses, from F.T. Marinetti to Vladimir Mayakovsky, and across different media (literature, cinema, painting and architecture). Paul argues that not only are the discourses of the avant-Garde, modernism and science fiction, intertwined, but that they become a repository for later artistic and cultural developments.