Center for the Study of Science Fiction

The Center for the Study of Science Fiction is an endowed educational institution associated with the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS, that emerged from the science-fiction (SF) programs that James Gunn created at the University beginning in 1968. The Center was formally established through an endowment in 1982 as a focus for courses, workshops, lectures, student and international awards, a conference, fan groups, and other SF-related programs at the University of Kansas.


In 1968, James Gunn filmed a series of interviews, talks and lectures as resources for his course and for other science fiction courses.[1] The next year, Gunn offered his first science fiction course at the University of Kansas.[2] Several years later in 1975, Gunn and a colleague held the first Intensive English Institute on the Teaching of Science Fiction,[3] originally as a four-week course covering the history of SF in both short fiction and novels. as of July 2018, it has continued as an annual two-week event, alternating each year between the SF novel and the SF short story.

The Center expanded when, in 1978, the Campbell Conference was established as a venue to present the Campbell Award.[4][5]

The Center was officially founded in 1982, and in 1996 The Center and the Kansas City Science Fiction and Fantasy Society established the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. The Chairmen were Keith Stokes (1996–2001) and Robin Wayne Bailey (2002–present). Four authors were inducted annually as part of the Center's Campbell Conference until 2004, when the Hall of Fame moved to Seattle to become part of the EMP Museum.

The Richard W. Gunn Memorial Lecture Series was established by an endowment from Richard W. Gunn's estate in 2004.[6] This year's lecturer was Cory Doctorow.

In 2007 the KU English Department provided the Center with its first office for CSSF's collection of more than 30,000 volumes of science fiction books, publications and multimedia materials.[7] The University of Kansas' Spencer Research Library also has a significant science fiction collection, and since 1982 the SF Special Collection has become KU's fastest-growing research collection, mostly through gifts. The Spencer Research Library holds multimedia materials, ephemera, fanzines, magazines, original manuscripts and papers from a large number of authors (including a recent major acquisition of papers), and more.

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