IMC 2013: Sessions

Session 524: Science and Fiction in the Middle Ages

Tuesday 2 July 2013, 09.00-10.30

Sponsor:Centre for Late Antique & Medieval Studies, King's College London
Organisers:Carl Kears, Department of English, King's College London
James Antonio Paz, School of English, University of Leeds
Moderator/Chair:Clare A. Lees, Department of English Language & Literature, King's College London
Paper 524-aIs Beowulf Science Fiction?
(Language: English)
Daniel Anlezark, Department of English, University of Sydney
Index terms: Language and Literature - Old English, Science
Paper 524-bDreams of War, Dreams of Dragon's Fire: Conrad Kyeser's Bellifortis
(Language: English)
Alison Harthill, School of English, Communication & Philosophy, Cardiff University
Index terms: Language and Literature - Other, Science
Paper 524-cThe Future is a Foreign Country: The Legend of the Seven Sleepers and the Anglo-Saxon Sense of the Past
(Language: English)
Roy M. Liuzza, Department of English, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Index terms: Language and Literature - Old English, Language and Literature - Latin, Science

The terms ‘Medieval’ and ‘Science Fiction’ are, at first glance, incompatible. These two categories of definition seem light years apart, one in the ‘historical’ past the other in the imagined future. But does the medieval period deserve to be left out of histories of Science Fiction, as it so often is? This session asks speakers to consider the possibility of a ‘Medieval Science Fiction’. Did medieval authors engage with the ‘scientific’ potentialities of their time? Are there medieval narratives that speculate about technological advances or disasters? How were these imagined to alter corporeal or temporal boundaries? Would such narratives be designed to offer pleasure, entertainment, or warning? Did anxieties concerning alien races and their more advanced technologies exist in the medieval period? Might modern Science Fiction be used as an interpretive tool with which to explore medieval texts? And can such a comparative approach be pleasurable – or even plausible – when the Middle Ages is without many of the principles that define modern science?