Last week, Eleanor joined a whole new utopian world when she became a member of the Utopian Studies Society and presented a paper at her first society conference in Gdansk, Poland. This paper, titled “In the Hard Times (and the Good): Solidarity Beyond Race and Gender in Women’s Science Fiction” will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Literary, Postcolonial and Gender Studies”. The conference took place in the European Solidarity Centre and the new literature faculty of Gdansk University. She met an amazing group of fun and brilliant people, who will hopefully become friends for life and academic cheerleaders for her future career in academia.
When in Italy, Eleanor is based in the literature department of the University of Bologna, in which the Utopia Centre (Centro Interdipartimentale di Ricerca sull’Utopia) for academic research in Utopian Studies is located. Eleanor is pleased to continue in the footsteps of the academics who have worked in the Utopia Centre, where she is based while working on the GRACE project at the University of Bologna. From Vita Fortunati and Rita Monticelli to Raffaella Baccolini, the centre has contributed to academic research in Utopian Studies since 1987.
At the Gdansk conference, Eleanor was able to meet Lyman Tower Sargent and Tom Moylan, and listen to a speech from Lech Wałęsa, co-founder and head of the Soviet bloc’s first independent trade union, Solidarity (Solidarność), and winner of the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize.
Following Wałęsa’s lead, “Solidarity” was the theme of the conference, with fifteen seminars held daily on the subject. With four rooms of seminars to choose from, on subjects ranging from “Patriarchy and Feminism” and “Revolution”, to “Sex/topia” and “Solidarity and Utopia in the Era of Brexit and Trump”, there was something for everyone. Eleanor hopes to be back next year, where the society will meet again in Tarragona.