Using Science Fiction for a Hermeneutics of Space Research
My project investigates the ways in which literary endeavour might contribute to the conversation between theology, philosophy and the hard sciences. One of the difficulties of interdisciplinary conversation is the task of navigating the space between “knowledge” and “possibility” in a way which is hospitable to various forms of scholarly discourse. In imaginatively exploring this space, literature has the potential to provide a vocabulary for just such a conversation. Central to the project is the task of identifying the philosophical and theological narratives of ‘becoming’ which science fiction utilises, and to find out how these narratives shape the social (and scientific) discourse on extra-terrestrial exploration. How do models of being in literature change in response to changing scientific paradigms? In return, does science fiction help us to identify what it is that space-exploration is searching for? The answers to these questions will hopefully identify a constructive role for literary theory in an interdisciplinary approach to space-research.
Zoë Lehmann Imfeld is a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Space and Habitability at the University of Bern, Switzerland, and a lecturer in modern English literature at the English department. Zoe holds post-graduate degrees in both theology and literature, and received her PhD in 2015 with the thesis ‘Theology and the Victorian Ghost Story.’ The thesis was awarded the Marie Heim-Vögtlin Prize in 2016, and has recently been published as a book by Palgrave Macmillan. Zoë is co-editor for the volume Theology and Literature after Post-Modernity with Peter Hampson and Alison Milbank, and is a series editor for the Bloomsbury series Religion and the University.