Collaborative Futures: Arts Funding and Speculative Fictions


According to scholars of literary sociology, US arts institutions—from the federal government to the writers’ colony to the creative writing program—have been central to the shaping of US literature for the better part of a century. This paper offers a preliminary investigation of the global crowdfunding platform Kickstarter as an emerging arts institution. Drawing on Kim Stanley Robinson and Marina Abramović’s artistic collaboration as a case study, the paper argues that the appearance of the Marina Abramović Institute (MAI) in Robinson’s novel New York 2140 troubles the author’s stated generic commitments to “realist speculative fiction”—fiction that bases its vision of the future on the state of things in our present. In addition to furnishing uncertain conditions of production for the novel, Kickstarter’s funding model solicits short-form speculative fiction organized around neoliberal selfhood from its artists. With the assistance of Kickstarter’s networked platform, the MAI’s capital campaign reimagined private funding as public performance art, as dutiful civic engagement, and as reward for artists willing to narrate entrepreneurial optimism.


Arts; art funding; speculative fiction; Trump era America; transmedial studies

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Published : 2020-12-31

SchnepfJ. (2020). Collaborative Futures: Arts Funding and Speculative Fictions. Review of International American Studies, 13(2), 145-157.

J. D. Schnepf
University of Groningen  United States

J.D. Schnepf is Assistant Professor of American Studies in Political Culture and Theory the University of Groningen. Her research focuses on the literatures and cultures of the US security state, surveillance technologies, extractive infrastructures, labor, and domesticity. Her writing has appeared in Feminist Media Studies, International Feminist Journal of Politics, Media + Environment, Modern Fiction Studies, Museum Anthropology, Public Books, Surveillance & Society, and other venues. In 2019 she was awarded the Emory Elliott Prize by the International American Studies Association (IASA), the Amy J. Elias Founder’s Award by the Association for the Study of Arts of the Present (ASAP), and the Fellowship for Distinguished Non-Geographers by the American Association of Geographers (AAG). For 2019–2020, she was named Postdoctoral Associate for the Project on Gender in the Global Community (GGC) on the topic of “Gender and Security” at Princeton University. She is at work on a book that traces the circuit between military technologies that maintain US imperialism overseas and cultural representations of surveillance technologies at home. She holds a PhD in English from Brown University.

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