Alicia Fahey

Speculative Archives

This paper examines representations of the archive in Canadian speculative fiction. Archives proliferate in speculative fiction, ranging from more traditional, institutionally recognized documents such as congressional reports, correspondence, diaries, postcards, and photographs, to alternative forms of self-documentation such as an oil drum and a collection of baseball cards. By examining a variety of Canadian novels, this paper asks how speculative fiction reimagines the archive. Focusing on the affective dimensions of archival practices, these novels illustrate the ways in which speculative fiction documents the critical absences in narratives of the past and present.

Alicia Fahey obtained her PhD at UBC in 2017. She is a Sessional Lecturer at the University of British Columbia in the Department of English Language and Literatures. Her research interests include Canadian literature and visual art, Indigenous art and literatures of Turtle Island, memory studies, book history, and archival theory.

Robert McGill

Fiction as Research: A Suitable Companion for the End of Your Life

People are liable to think of fiction as something defined by flights of fancy rather than knowledge-creation. Even authors whose fiction comes of digging through archives or conducting interviews might acknowledge that their work differs fundamentally from traditional scholarly writing because, by definition, fiction is ambiguous regarding which parts of it are factually true. With reference to my speculative novel-in-progress, A Suitable Companion for the End of Your Life, I’ll discuss how fiction can stand as a unique, valuable form of research precisely because of its affordances as writing that doesn’t expressly identify how much of it is referential.

Robert McGill is the author of two novels, The Mysteries and Once We Had a Country, and two nonfiction books, The Treacherous Imagination: Intimacy, Ethics, and Autobiographical Fiction and War Is Here: The Vietnam War and Canadian Literature. He teaches Creative Writing and Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto.

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