The Golden Age(s) of Screen
Science Fiction

An Area of Multiple Panels for the
2014 Film & History Conference
Golden Ages: Styles and Personalities, Genres and Histories

List of All Areas Main Conference Page

DEADLINE for abstracts: June 1, 2014

Defining the Golden Age of screen science fiction is both complex and contentious. The 1930s offered viewers the exuberant serials like The Phantom Empire and Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, as well darkly atmospheric tales of science gone wrong like Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The 1950s established science fiction's claim to be a cinema of ideas, with high-gloss "adult" productions like The Day the Earth Stood Still and Forbidden Planet. James Cameron's The Abyss and the CGI-driven SF films that followed it in the early 1990s renewed screen science fiction's reputation for spectacle, and references to the 2000s as a golden age of television drama routinely cite SF series such as Firefly, Fringe, and the reimagined Battlestar Galactica as evidence. How do we define these purported golden ages in screen SF and understand their interrelationship? Has science fiction on screen yet to find its Golden Age?

This area invites 20-minute papers dealing with all aspects of how the concept of a "Golden Age" relates to science fiction in film, television, and other moving-image media. Because golden ages are, almost by definition, culturally specific, papers that explore screen SF from outside the United States are especially welcome.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Defining golden ages in screen SF: quality v. quantity, word v. image, effects v. ideas

• Films or television series that defined the (or a) golden age of Screen SF

• Screen SF's golden age(s) and the march of special effects

• Golden ages in non-US science fiction film or television

• Fan discourse and the framing of golden ages

• Adapting the "Golden Age" of print (or comic-book) SF for the screen

• Was there a golden age of children's SF television?

Proposals for complete panels (three related presentations) are also welcome, but they must include an abstract and contact information, including an e-mail address, for each presenter. For updates and registration information about the upcoming meeting, see the Film & History website (

Please e-mail your 200-word proposal by 1 June 2014, to the area chair:

A. Bowdoin Van Riper


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