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

15–17 December 2017

Monash University Law Chambers, Melbourne, Australia

Organised by Monash University and the University of Warwick

with funding provided by the Monash Warwick Alliance

Colloquy Special Issue

A special double issue of the journal Colloquy: Text, Theory, Critique responding to conference themes is now available. The issue was published on 14 December 2018 and collects eight research articles and two creative pieces, all responding to the ethical dimensions of utopia, dystopia and science fiction.

The guest editorial team comprised postgraduate students from Monash University and the University of Warwick: Zachary Kendal and Aisling Smith (editors-in-chief); Joshua Bulleid, Giulia Champion, Sean Mulcahy and JungJu Shin (associate editors).

The issue publishes articles by Françoise Campbell, Philip Braithwaite, João Vicente Faustino, Eleanor Smith, Freya Verlander, Ursula de Leeuw, Adam Lovasz, Anne-Maree Wicks, along with short stories by Jason Nahrung and Kane Simpson.

The issue is open access and available through the Colloquy website and the monash.figshare repository.

About the conference

(Un)Ethical Futures was 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 engaged 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 spanned 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 allowed 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 featured keynote addresses, interactive workshops and concurrent panels.

Conference Booklet

The conference booklet can now be downloaded in full from the monash.figshare repository. This includes the complete conference schedule and the abstracts of each paper, reading and workshop.

Keynote Speakers

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 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.

Nick Lawrence teaches American literature, world literature and critical theory at the University of Warwick. He is a member of the Warwick Research Collective and co-author of Combined and Uneven Development: Towards a New Theory of World-Literature (Liverpool UP), together with forthcoming volumes on keywords in world-literary studies and world culture beyond the novel. His publications include How to Read Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment (Pluto) and a range of articles on work and utopia in critical theory, poetry in the post-Bandung era, contemporary graphic narrative and climate change and the neoliberal university. He is currently working on Post-Capitalist Aesthetics, a monograph charting contemporary dystopian landscapes in tandem with cultural prefigurations of a world order beyond the present era of neoliberal capitalism.

Workshop Leaders

Dr Meg Mundell is a novelist, journalist, and Research Fellow in Writing and Literature 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 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.

Evie Kendal is a lecturer with the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine and a PhD candidate in the Centre for Human Bioethics at Monash University. She is the author of Equal Opportunity and the Case for State Sponsored Ectogenesis (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) and has published various articles and book chapters on the representation of reproductive biotechnologies in science fiction.

Conference program


Conference flyer


Conference venue

Monash University Law Chambers

555 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

For more information about the venue and surrounds, please see our "Visiting Melbourne" page.

13–14 December 2017

Conference attendees were invited to attend pre-conference activities at the Monash University Clayton Campus. Most of these were aimed at graduate research students, but some were open to a wider audience. For more information, see the "Pre-conference" page.

These activities were funded by the Monash Postgraduate Association and Monash University’s Literary and Cultural Studies Graduate Research Program, and were free of charge for participants.

Screenshot of the Shop.Monash listing


Registrations have now closed. Please direct all enquiries to utopias-conference@monash.edu

Registration rates were as follows (in Australian dollars):

Three-day registration

full fee $150 | student/concession $95 | Monash/Warwick student $80

One-day registration

full fee $55 | student/concession $35 | Monash/Warwick student $30

Registration fees were charged in order to cover some conference expenses, such as catering, although the support of the Monash Warwick Alliance has allowed us to keep these costs to a minimum.

Conference call for papers

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

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


The conference and pre-conference activities were made possible by the generous support of the organisations and centres below:

Monash Warwick Alliance

Connecting Cultures GRP (University of Warwick)

Humanities Research Centre (University of Warwick)

Monash Postgraduate Association

Literary and Cultural Studies (Monash University)

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

You can find Colloquy on Twitter at @colloquyjournal

Conference hashtag: #utopias2017