UTSA Academy of Distinguished Researchers’ Speaker Series resumes with literary scholar Eric Carl Link | UTSA Today | UTSA

Link’s research has focused on 19th-century and 20th-century aesthetic theory, American literary naturalism, speculative fiction, and the intersections of philosophy, science and literature.

Jeanne C. Reesman, the Jack and Laura Richmond Endowed Faculty Fellow in American Literature at UTSA, professor of English, and charter Academy member since 2015, speaks of the impact of Link’s research.

“I have followed Eric’s career and ideas closely and learned greatly from them. As fellow-scholars in Naturalism, I especially admire his influential book The Vast and Terrible Drama: American Literary Naturalism in the Late Nineteenth Century, the foundational text for a new generation of scholars concentrating on turn-of-the-century social protest writers such as Stephen Crane, Jack London, Theodore Dreiser and Frank Norris, as well as Edith Wharton, Richard Wright and today, Cormac McCarthy,” Reesman said.”

“He is also an expert in science fiction with a vast knowledge of science fiction past and present, with a book on Philip K. Dick, of Blade Runner fame, and two edited volumes with Cambridge University Press on the history and cultural contexts of science fiction,” Reesman added.

In his illustrated Academy of Distinguished Researchers lecture, Link plans to reach a broad audience with “Understanding Science Fiction.” He will deepen the subject of science fiction and its history for the UTSA audience. He answers such questions as what is science fiction? and describes the language of science fiction, including concepts as alloplastic and autoplastic societies, alterity, the novum, distance markers and cybernetics.

He will discuss the impact of contemporary techno-philosophical ideas such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and the technological singularity hypothesis on modern science fiction, and he gives a tour through many of the most common science fiction plot structures, from the alien contact story to the alternative history to the dying-earth scenario.

Link’s lecture will conclude with a brief introduction to one of the greatest 20th-century science fiction writers, Philip K. Dick, with special attention paid to his short story The Electric Ant.

“Arguably, no single genre—in literature, in film, in the visual arts—has come to dominate the cultural landscape of the 21st-century more than science fiction,” Link said. “Over the last 100 years, science fiction has developed, branched out into all manner of representation, become the object of massive and diverse fandoms, and become a focus of intense academic investigation and scrutiny. It has become a kind of lens through which individuals engage their worlds and envision their collective futures.”


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