Sherryl Vint

Professional Bio 

Sherryl Vint is Professor of Media and Cultural Studies and English at the University of California, Riverside, where she directs the Speculative Fictions and Cultures of Science program. Her research focuses on speculative fiction and social change. She is an author of the books BODIES OF TOMORROW, ANIMAL ALTERITY, THE WIRE, and SCIENCE FICTION: A GUIDE TO THE PERPLEXED. She is an editor of the journals SCIENCE FICTION STUDIES and SCIENCE FICTION FILM AND TELEVISION, and of the book series SCIENCE AND POPULAR CULTURE. She has edited several books, most recently SCIENCE FICTION AND CULTURAL THEORY: A READER. Her current research project, The Promissory Imagination: Speculative Futures and Biopolitics, reads science fiction in the context of biopolitical theory. Expanding upon earlier work that argues science fiction functions as a supplementary discourse to the discourses of science, this book will explore the exchanges between speculative imagination and material practice in personalized medicine, agribusiness and other genomic research. Within a context in which biotechnology itself relies on speculative discourses, and one in which the economy is largely propelled by such fantasies, critical discourses of science fiction have a crucial role to play in ongoing struggles over how to imagine the future.

Area of Expertise 

There are two main focuses in my research: on how science and popular culture intersect, and on how speculative fiction is part of a utopian tradition of social critique. My work seeks to put speculative fiction in dialogue with conversations in critical theory. The genre illuminates contemporary preoccupations and articulates cultural anxieties, often about how science and technology are changing the social world, and thus serves as a kind of vernacular theory for understanding a present that at-times seems like the visions of an earlier generation’s science fiction. For example, in my book ANIMAL ALTERITY I examine how speculative fiction asks many of the same questions about the human/animal boundary and its role in shaping ethics as are asked in recent philosophy by theorists such as Jacques Derrida and Giorgio Agamben. Putting these theorizations in dialogue with contemporary biotechnology, which crosses species lines, including this boundary, I show how fiction that begins from scientific extrapolation helps to illuminate pressing bioethical issues. In my new research, I extend this focus to questions of how the biotech industry operations, beginning with the promissory discourse of statements used to secure venture capital, which I read as another kind of speculative fiction.

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