Filmmaker and digital media artist Alex Rivera will serve as the guest of honor at this year’s Jack Williamson Lectureship.
Rivera will host a screening of his film “Sleep Dealer” and a Q&A session at 5 p.m. April 4 in the University Theatre Building.
At 10 a.m. April 5, Rivera will dive into the topic of science fiction and filmmaking and how the medium uses film to show issues that are prevalent in society today.
The annual luncheon will follow at 11:45 a.m. in the Campus Union Building Ballroom, with comments by both River and Connie Willis. The luncheon is $10 at the door and attendees should RSVP by April 1.
The lectureship was first hosted in 1977 as a way to honor Jack Williamson, a science fiction author and (at the time) newly retired faculty alumni of Eastern New Mexico University. Since the lectureship series’ inception, there have been 41 guest lecturers from different parts of the humanities and sciences.
“Almost every topic of importance is finding expression in science fiction and fantasy,” said event coordinator Patrice Caldwell. “It’s flexible and wants to address what makes us human and what makes us inhuman.”
Science fiction, according to Caldwell, has always been about addressing current issues in a way that is understandable to the reader.
“How people are treated has always been a topic,” said Caldwell. “Science fiction, the word itself, is an interplay of science and fiction, a great hybrid of the humanities and the sciences. It has always crossed these borders.”
Rivera’s film “The Infiltrators” is a prime example of what science fiction is, according to Caldwell. The film was a part of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and showcases the ongoing issue with the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, with some added science fictional elements.
The lectureship has always traditionally been about the roll science fiction as a genre plays in society. Some topics in the past have included the evolution of post humanity, designer genres, and humanities in the 21st Century.
The Jack Williamson Lectureship is a unique series, said Caldwell, adding that no other university in the U.S. has put in place an event that is named after and honors an author, alumni, and professor like ENMU has done with the Jack Williamson Lectureship Series.