Reading Into the Past / Writing Into the Future
Ashley Jane Lewis, Carey J. Flack, Kenia Hale
Section 1: March 24, 2024 to May 26, 2024
Section 2: March 27, 2024 to May 29, 2024
Section 1: Sundays, 4-7pm EST
Section 2: Wednesdays, 6:30-9:30pm EST
Applications closed on
February 5, 2024
“All organizing is science fiction. We are bending the future, together, into something we have never experienced. a world where everyone experiences abundance, access, pleasure, human rights, dignity, freedom, transformative justice, peace. We long for this, we believe it is possible.”
—adrienne maree brown
“We are stuck with the problem of living despite economic and ecological ruination. Neither tales of progress nor of ruin tell us how to think about collaborative survival. It is time to pay attention to mushroom picking. Not that this will save us—but it might open our imaginations.”
― Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins
It cannot be overstated how important the role reading and writing plays in opening up portals to new ways of being together. When we read and write stories about ourselves and society, we make new worlds, write new structures and set new principles of living. As with centuries of folklore traditions, stories of the speculative future are visceral technologies that contain instructions for political ideologies that terraform worlds we can learn a lot from.
Images courtesy of teachers.
Reading into the Past / Writing into the Future is one of two classes that SFPC is fundraising for in our Community Fundraiser. SFPC has not raised enough money to offer this class tuition free as of January 9, 2024. We will continue to accept donations towards the scholarship fund for this class. Donate to help us offer this class for free.
Course of Study
- Week 1: Orientation - Community agreement, learning objectives, office hours, about the final project, meeting the participants
- Week 2: Voyaging - We will be looking at our first examples of science fiction, examining common written themes that emerge from Black, Brown, Indigenous and queer communities. We will start slowly by writing some short pieces about our pasts and discuss the origins of traditional science fiction as a means to uphold racist, sexist and homophobic ideologies.
- Week 3: Observing - This week focuses on looking for cues from the present day and extrapolating them forward into the future to imagine their consequences and evolution / de-evolution. We compare this kind of imaginative practice to the evolution of plants and non-human species around us.
- Week 4: Contemplation - We deepen our understanding of what a world could look like, if written from within the margins. We are joined by a guest speaker from the world of science, technology or speculative design.
- Week 5: Connecting - We take a look at the way our writing and reading is changing, with influence from the resources in the class. We will think about the way that technology influences major changes to societal behaviour as we’re joined by another guest speaker.
- Week 6: Deepening - We will begin to practice long format writing. We will also map out what it means to be interconnected over space and time. In this class we will select a theme for the publication as well as assign publication production roles (editor, graphic designer, compiler, reviewer, coordinator, etc).
- Week 7: Confrontation - We will consider the world of utopias, dystopias and topias, navigating questions like, ‘utopic to whom?’. We will think together on what it means to write ourselves into the future what leaving space for other futures to exist and flourish.
- Week 8: Refining - This class focuses on edits. A special guest is invited to listen to each written piece and provide meaningful feedback.
- Week 9: Crystallization - We will deepen our methodologies for visual language through a series of writing exercises that aim to sharpen the skills participants are applying as they finish the final edits of their work.
- Week 10: Celebration - This week’s discussion nestles the class in the celebration of completing the publication and the past 10 weeks of study. We review final pieces, reflect on major class archs and themes as well as spend time writing pieces of gratitude to each other and our future and past selves.
- Participants will be expected to spend time outside of class on readings as well as writing assignments. Participants will be encouraged to read or listen to each other’s work.
- Over the course of the 10 weeks, we will be working on a collaborative publication based on a theme that emerges from the common interests of the class. This publication will contain a piece from every member of the class.
- Participants are expected to apply new knowledge of writing techniques, compelling scientific or technological information from class content and guest speakers to their work.
By taking this class, you can expect to gain the following:
- The ability to communicate complex ideas through writing and peer discussions
- A more conscientious approach to imagining the future that considers the stakes and cues of the current moment.
- Practice in writing using new techniques, practice in active listening as other people read their work, and practice providing meaningful feedback.
- A nuanced perspective on the interconnected nature of science, creativity and society.
- Familiarity to Google Drive (tutorial will be included during office hours)
- Readings and book excerpts will be provided
Is this class for me?
If this sounds like you, then YES!:
- You are an artist, writer, creative, designer, thinker, researcher, poet, technologist (and more!) who wants to find diverse community
- You are interested in science fiction
- You are a new or advanced writer - no significant experience needed!
If you are interested in critical, decolonial discourse - no significant experience needed!
- You like to imagine new worlds
This class may NOT be for you if:
- You think the world is pretty chill and free of oppression right now
- You think that technology, alone, will save us
- You are only interested in dystopian futures
Meet the Teachers
Ashley Jane Lewis
Ashley Jane Lewis is a new media artist with a focus on afrofuturism, bio art, social justice and speculative design. Her artistic practice explores black cultures of the past, present and future through computational and analog mediums including coding and machine learning, data weaving, microorganisms and live performance. Listed in the top 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada, her award winning work on empowered futures for marginalized groups has exhibited in both Canada and the US, most notably featured on the White House website during the Obama presidency. Her practice is tied to science and actively incorporates living organisms like slime mould and food cultures (kombucha and sourdough starters) to explore ways of decentralizing humans and imagine collective, multi species survival. Ashley is currently an Artist in Residence at Culture Hub NYC as well as part of the Culture Futures Track in the NEW INC year 7 cohort, an art, design and technology incubator run within the New Museum.
Carey J. Flack
Carey Flack is a creative technologist, researcher, writer, and archivist living on the Muscogee Nation Reservation [Tulsa, OK]. As a 7th generation Oklahoman and experimental archivist, Carey documents Black Southern and Afro-Native land relationships through her IG blog @pressed.roots. Her work explores land and ancestral memory, time, diasporic experiences, language and culture preservation, and personal narrative. She’s passionate about designing that work that gently helps people intimately witness the interlocking oppressions and dreams within and around them.
Kenia Hale (she/her) is a writer and technologist from Cleveland, Ohio. A grandchild of the great migration (via Mississippi, Arkansas, and Georgia), Kenia graduated with distinction from Yale University, where she majored in Computing and the Arts (Architecture Concentration). She has worked as an Emerging Scholar at the Princeton University Center for Information Technology Policy and the Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab, where she researched liberatory technologies, digital marronage, and critical technology ecologies, and presented her research at conferences around the world including 4S in Cholula, Mexico, Data 4 Public Good, and the United Nations “Artificial Intelligence to support Collective Intelligence for Sustainable Development” conference in Doha, Qatar. She has also served as an Environmental Justice in Tech fellow at Earth Hacks, co-head teacher at The Octavia Project, and is a founding editor of Porch Water Press (,porchwaterpress.com,), a Black Queer publishing press based in Lenapehoking. Kenia also maintains her own creative practices, including writing award-winning speculative fiction, coding video games with her friends, and playing bass in her all BIPOC punk band, Speakeasy (@speakeasy_nb). Her research interests examine the intersection between technology, environmental justice, and racial justice. You can learn more about her work at ,keniahale.com,.
Reading Into the Past / Writing Into the Future
with Ashley Jane Lewis, Carey J. Flack and Kenia Hale
March 24 - May 29, 2024 ·Online (Zoom) ·Applications open
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