What would our world look like if the Axis powers won World War II? What would it be like if the Union lost the American Civil War? What if the Great Depression never ended? Whether it is from our desire to change the past or our relief at horrors that did not occur, we like to imagine alternative histories, often the province of science fiction. Alternative histories range from expansive visions that focus on the fate of the world (Ward Moore’s Bring the Jubilee, Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle) to highly personal stories that concern a single life (James Tiptree, Jr.’s “Backward, Turn Backward”). Science fiction experiments with world-shaping possibilities, and it can present us with changed visions of our pasts, opening up possibilities—both good and bad—for our presents and futures. Written for dramatic and often ironic effect, alternative histories chronicle the moment of divergence and the consequences of that divergence. Among the consequences of these changed timelines are reimagined spaces: borders shift, and those who were welcome are now excluded. This panel explores the relationship between history and space, asking panelists to examine fictional histories and investigate the impact of alternative timelines upon the landscape. How do mechanisms like time travel, time loops, and timeslips into parallel worlds make these reimagined worlds possible? Do positive alternative histories demolish borders while negative ones erect them? Are natural spaces as susceptible to change by altered timelines as political boundaries?
Abstracts of around 300 words must be submitted via the NeMLA site: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/17033.