Barbarians Within: Constructing the Barbaric Other in Speculative Fiction  (Panel)


American / Cultural Studies and Media Studies

Emily Lauer (SUNY Suffolk County Community College)

Misha Grifka (Ohio State University)

For the past two years, NeMLA’s keynote speakers have evoked the image of barbarians at the gates, and they are not alone in their use of this powerful image. Barbarians evoke a particular kind of wildness and danger that continues to resonate in popular culture, from the Dothraki and Wildlings in Game of Thrones, to the raiders in Parable of the Sower. In response to NeMLA 2020’s theme, “Shaping and Sharing Identities: Spaces, Places, Languages and Cultures,” we invite presentations that interrogate the idea of barbarism in speculative fiction. How is the barbaric defined and located? Can the racist and colonialist implications of the term ever be shed or inverted? Can barbarity be located on the “inside,” such as the hyper-civilized but bloodthirsty residents of the Capital in The Hunger Games? What relationship does barbarism have with categories of monstrosity, otherness, and race? We particularly wish to cultivate a panel with diverse disciplinary approaches, and which includes scholars from a range of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. To this end, we invite a brief bio with the abstract.
Barbarians evoke a particular kind of wildness and danger that continues to resonate in popular culture. We invite presentations that interrogate the idea of barbarism in speculative fiction. Can the racist and colonialist implications of the term ever be shed or inverted? Can barbarity be located on the “inside?" What relationship does barbarism have with categories of monstrosity, otherness, and race? We particularly wish to cultivate a panel with diverse disciplinary approaches, and which includes scholars from a range of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.