In Alumni in Action, Events

The Archetype of Change in Speculative Fiction: A Book Club

with Ayana Jamieson, Ph.D.

6 Sundays:
March 6 & 20, April 10 & 24, and May 15 & 29
10am – 12pm PDT / 1pm-3pm EDT

Sessions will be hosted online
Community space and same-day recordings provided


Dr. Ayana Jamieson returns to the Salome Institute to lead a spring book club exploring the archetype of Change via speculative fiction.

In this three book series, Dr. Jamieson will lead a discussion on the new and emergent mythologies of change in three Black speculative fiction novels for the months of March, April, and May. Participants will gain insight into archetypes in culture, the nature of Change as an archetype, and what mythologies of change mean for the individual, the community, and in relationship to the cultures in which these archetypes exist.

Over three months, we will read one book each by Octavia E. Butler, N.K. Jemisin, and Suyi Davies Okungbowo. Registration is open for each month individually ($90) or register for all three months at once at a significant discount ($225).

In Wild Seed (1980), Octavia E. Butler writes characters that embody the archetype of Change. It is her only text that takes place entirely in the past. Anyanwu’s ability to shapeshift and Doro’s knack for changing bodies form the fertile ground for teasing out the archetype of Change in other speculative works. Change is not linear, one-sided, or wholly positive. It is sometimes brought about by rupture, resistance, chaos, and rebirth. This month’s gatherings will take a deep dive into a text which teeters on the precipice of radical transformation that is so needed today. The story patterns of change are not only led by a conquering individual hero but instead, are in relationship with nature and in community with others—human and non-human. This text asks, among other things: what we would do if we could heal ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities from the inside out?

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin is told from the perspective of three characters at once: Maiden, Mother, and Crone. The planet in the novel is on the brink of collapse and readers get to see how the irreparable damage to the ecosystem unfolds with lessons about the ways that disasters develop. As a trained counseling psychologist, the author, Jemisin, acknowledges the ways that psychodynamic theory impacts her work along with copious research on mythologies, archetypes, and cosmologies. She levels valid critiques on the biased lenses of some of the source materials that she’s consulted. Jemisin has long been interested in societies on the verge of collapse. Her award-winning works often make readers wonder how we would navigate a preventable end of the world; how we find affinity, and how we take ownership of ourselves and our gifts.

Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowo is an original work written from the perspectives of multiple harbingers of change, individuals on the margins who must survive rigid and oppressive conditions, false information, and the erasure of realities. Can we root out the controlling and limiting aspects of the culture we are born into or will we leave the ordinary world to find our communities, even when we don’t know what else exists within us and in the unknown?

Check out these titles in The Salome Bookshop*:
Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
Son of The Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

*When you buy a book using a link on this page, we receive a commission. Thank you for supporting The Salome Institute.

A few important notes on the structure for this three-part seminar:

  • Registrants will have access to a community page for group engagement between sessions. Participation is entirely voluntary.

  • Recordings will be provided to all who register. We strive to always provide recordings within 24hours of the live session. For the sake of confidentiality, recordings can never be downloaded. Recordings are not available to anyone who does not register and will ultimately expire.

  • Readings are not provided. All registered participants are encouraged to purchase these three novels in advance of scheduled gatherings.

  • Reading assignments will be posted to ensure that everyone is… on the same page.

About Ayana Jamieson, Ph.D.

Ayana Jamieson is an educator, mythologist, and depth psychologist. She is the founder of the Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network, a global community founded in 2011, committed to highlighting Octavia Butler’s life and work while creating new works inspired by Butler’s legacy. Ayana’s essay, “Far Beyond the Stars” contains methods for curating your own archive and appears in the Black Futures anthology edited by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham (One World). Her writing also appears in 51 Feminist Thinkers (Routledge), Uneven Futures: Strategies for Community Survival from Speculative Fiction (MIT Press), and elsewhere. She teaches ethnic studies courses at California State University Polytechnic, Pomona.

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