(Un)Ethical Futures: Utopia, Dystopia and Science Fiction

15–17 December 2017

Hosted by Monash University in Melbourne, Australia

Organised by Monash University and the University of Warwick

with funding provided by the Monash Warwick Alliance

About the conference

(Un)Ethical Futures is a three-day interdisciplinary conference exploring the ethical concerns of utopia, dystopia and science fiction. As we find the world in a state of significant social and political uncertainty, representations of more (or less) ethical futures can help us understand the impulses driving society today, and our hopes and fears for the future.

The conference will engage with a wide range of disciplines across the humanities, arts, and social sciences, including literary studies, media studies, history, philosophy, and cultural studies. The conference themes also span multiple genres and modes, from science fiction (sf) about the near or distant future, to alternative histories about better or worse presents, to fantastic stories about utopian or dystopian societies. The conference’s focus on ethics allows for a range of topics, including environmental ethics and climate change, human bioethics, animal ethics, the ethical use of technology, ethics of alterity and the ethical treatment of others, as well as related issues of social justice.

The conference will feature keynote addresses, interactive workshops and concurrent panels.

Keynote Speakers

Andrew Milner

Andrew Milner is Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at Monash University and Honorary Professor of English and Comparative Literary Studies at Warwick University. His publications include John Milton and the English Revolution (1981), The Road to St Kilda Pier (1984), Cultural Materialism (1993), Class (1999), Re-Imagining Cultural Studies (2002), Contemporary Cultural Theory (2002), Literature, Culture and Society (2005), Tenses of Imagination: Raymond Williams on Utopia, Dystopia and Science Fiction (2010), Locating Science Fiction (2012) and Again, Dangerous Visions: Essays in Cultural Materialism (forthcoming with E.J. Brill). He also co-edited volumes from three previous Monash conferences on utopia and dystopia.

Jacqueline Dutton

Jacqueline Dutton is Associate Professor in French Studies at the University of Melbourne. She has published widely on utopian studies, including a chapter on "Non-western" utopian traditions for the Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature (2010) and a book on utopianism in the work of 2008 Nobel Laureate in Literature JMG Le Clézio, Le Chercheur d'or et d'ailleurs: l'utopie de JMG Le Clézio (2003). She is also a leading researcher and writer on French culture and identity, teaching various courses on travel writing, food and wine, cinema, and literature. She is currently writing a cultural history of the Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne wine regions.

Workshop Leaders

Meg Mundell

Dr Meg Mundell is a novelist, journalist, and research fellow at Deakin University. Her critically acclaimed first novel Black Glass (Scribe, 2011), a dystopian tale set in a near-future Melbourne, was shortlisted for several awards. Meg’s writing has appeared in Best Australian Stories, The Age, The Guardian, The Monthly, Sydney Morning Herald, Meanjin, Cordite Poetry Review, Australian Book Review and elsewhere. She’s currently finishing her second novel, The Trespassers.

Sascha Morrell

Sascha Morrell studied Arts and Law at the University of Sydney and completed her PhD in English Literature at the University of Cambridge (Trinity College). She is a Lecturer in Literary Studies at Monash University, and has published widely on American and modernist literatures while completing a book project on race, labor, historiography and visual culture in the fiction of William Faulkner, Herman Melville and others. She has a special interest in the appropriation of Haitian history and cultural motifs (including the zombie) in U.S. fiction, theatre and film. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared in Australian, British and United States journals and anthologies including Meanjin, Going Down Swinging and The Mays.

Pre-conference graduate student activities

13–14 December 2017

Graduate students attending the conference will be invited to attend various pre-conference activities at the Monash University Clayton Campus. The 13 December activities will be more informal and social, while those running on 14 December will include workshops, masterclasses, and the launch of a new issue of Colloquy: Text, Theory, Critique. More information will be provided to attendees upon registration.


Registrations will open in late September 2017. Registration fees will be charged in order to cover some conference expenses, such as catering, although the support of the Monash Warwick Alliance will allow us to keep these costs to a minimum. More information will be provided on this website soon.

Due to the generous support of the Monash Warwick Alliance, a small number of travel bursaries will be available to students enrolled at the University of Warwick. Further details will be provided to eligible participants upon notification of acceptance.

Call for papers

The deadline for proposals was 13 August 2017 and submissions are now closed. An archived copy of the call for papers is still available for download.

Following the conference, convenors will circulate a call for submissions for a special issue of Colloquy: Text, Theory, Critique, which will publish research peer-reviewed articles, as well as creative writing and book reviews, arising from the conference proceedings.

Conference committee

Monash University

Zachary Kendal, Mia Goodwin, Aisling Smith, Evie Kendal, Joshua Bulleid

University of Warwick

Jung Ju Shin, Giulia Champion, Sean Mulcahy, Susannah Heffernan

For all enquiries, please email utopias-conference@monash.edu


Note: as we received more excellent proposals than, the conference has been extended to run over three days. An updated flyer reflecting these dates will be available shortly.