Hannah Calkins and Zach Schalk's presentation of their paper "Him + Her: Ethics, Gender, and Embodiment in A.I. Science Fiction" has been nominated for the 2015 Ralph Donald Award, which recognizes an outstanding paper and presentation delivered at the annual conference for the Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association (MAPACA). Calkins and Schalk presented their paper at the conference in Philadelphia, PA on November 6, 2015 as part of a panel called "Science Fiction as Ethical Inquiry." Professor Marilyn Stern, who chaired the panel, praised the presentation for its creativity, originality, and thoughtfulness.
Calkins, a second-year student, and Schalk, who graduated in May, cowrote the paper last spring in Professor Tinkcom's Science Fiction Cinema course. Focusing on the film Her and the comic book series Alex + Ada, the paper was structured as a series of conversational essays that explored the ways these two speculative texts illuminate trends and human relationships in the real world.
"Distilling our paper down to its essence in order to present it was a challenge," Calkins said. "But the back-and-forth format of the paper translated very well to a presentation, and it carried over into a great conversation with our audience."
The annual MAPACA conference draws over 400 academics, independent scholars, and graduate students from all over the world, and engages with a rich array of topics that fall under the "popular and American culture" umbrella. The winner of the Ralph Donald Award will be announced next year.