Ben Menadue

    Ben Menadue

    PhD student

    Cairns

    Biographical note

    As a fan of classic science fiction from the 1930s onwards, as well as a writer of science fiction my interests have led me to research how people’s appreciation of science fiction might tell us what their concerns and interests are in the non-fictional world. The initial topic is whether we can understand why the general public is reluctant to take new ideas in science seriously (examples being climate change controversies and anti-vaccination activism).

    Research topic

    What science fiction tells us about how our society responds to new ideas, and the interests and fears we display that can be inferred from the popularity of specific themes in the literature. One area of interest is what scientists can learn from how the public respond to science in fiction to better collaborate and cooperate both amongst themselves and with the general public to improve research outcomes.

    Research outline

    How do people react to new ideas, and, as well as informing us about our culture and society, how does this affect how we feel about science and scientists? The drive for scientists to learn to better collaborate and cooperate both amongst themselves and with the general public to improve research outcomes is very strong and the call for better systems and collaborations is a current issue for science in a research world of ever-increasing complexity, and potential impacts on humanity (nanotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering…). What I’m interested in exploring is if these new ideas are more acceptable if scientists learn how to be accessible as human members of society, something that we might learn from the portrayal of scientists and science in fiction (which people are more fond of than science fact).

    My research involves interviewing people face to face and through online surveys, carrying out qualitative and quantitative analysis of their responses and historic reader feedback to science fiction and fantasy. I’m exploring if we can identify how people respond to new ideas in a positive or negative light dependent upon their personal situation and the prevalent conditions in their historical and cultural age.

    As part of my ongoing research applying digital humanities techniques to analysis of English texts, I delivered a presentation on network-scaled analysis of literature at the Intersecting Fields conference in Townsville on the 30th October 2017. My recent paper, Human culture and science fiction: A review of the literature, published in August 2017 has now achieved almost 1,000 downloads and an altmetric attention score of 50, putting it in the top 5% of research outputs tracked by altmetric.

    Research questions

    • How does science fiction reflect our social and cultural values and interests?
    • Do people respond better to new ideas in science fiction, and if so, why?
    • Can scientists learn from this how to work better with themselves and the public?

    Supervisory team

    Richard Lansdown (English Literature)

    Komla Tsey (Public Health)

    Susan Jacups (Epidemiology)

    Kristi Giselsson (Learning, Teaching & Student Engagement)

    Research outputs

    • Data on correlations between attitudes to science fiction and how people experience it, what this tells us about our society and culture and what can be derived from this, one example being what this can tell us about the public attitude and responses to science culture.
      • A literary assessment of themes and content of the genre that have strong resonance with the public to both test the methodology and also provide insights into our relationship with social and cultural themes.  One of these will be recommendations for modification of existing research paradigms to make scientific collaboration and communication more inclusive and more functional.

      Research grants

      Australian PhD Scholarship

      Publications

      Menadue, C. B. (2017). Science fiction helps us deal with science fact: a lesson from Terminator’s killer robots. The Conversation, (August 23).

      Menadue, C. B. (2017). Trysts tropiques: The torrid jungles of science fiction. eTropic, 16(1), 125-140.  

      Menadue, C. B. (2018). Farewell Ursula Le Guin – the One who walked away from Omelas. The Conversation, (January 25).

      Menadue, C. B., & Cheer, K. C. 2017). Human culture and science fiction: A review of the literature 1980 to 2016. Sage Open, Jul-Sep, 1-15. doi:10.1177/2158244017723690

      Conference papers

      Menadue, B. (2015, November). Science fiction: Cultural fact, how science fiction can help scientists achieve more considered research outcomes. Paper presented at The Annual Conference of The Australian Sociological Association: Neoliberalism and Contemporary Challenges for the Asia-Pacific, Cairns.

      Menadue, B. (2015). Science fiction: Cultural fact, how science fiction can help scientists achieve more considered research outcomes. Paper presented at the College of Arts, Society and Education internal faculty seminar, Cairns.

      Menadue, C. B. (2017). Proximal reading: A network-scaled approach to digital literature analysis. Paper presented at the CASE HDR Conference 2017: Intersecting Fields, Townsville. doi:10.4225/28/57634A978EC88

      Datasets

      Menadue, C. B. (2016). Science fiction and fantasy experience survey [dataset].  doi:10.4225/28/582d4f159318c

      Menadue, C. B. (2017). Science fiction and fantasy opinion survey [dataset]. doi:10.4225/28/594726179755f

      orcid id http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4794-8280

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      Teaching experience

      Critical Theory, Basic Statistics, Digital Literacy, English


      Extended Profile

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