The University of California at Riverside has always had a vast, impressive collection of science fiction books and related ephemera in its library. This year the university is solidifying its reputation as the school to go to for serious scholarship related to scifi. They're holding a series of distinguished lectures this spring, on topics ranging from race in science fiction to the recent work of Vernor Vinge (the lecture on Vinge will be delivered by brilliant, longtime scifi scholar N. Katherine Hayles, who teaches at Duke).

Academic nerds, listen up. According to UC Riverside:

The speakers also will meet with graduate students enrolled in a course [English professor Rob] Latham teaches, “The Origins and Promise of Science Fiction,” which is part of the Ph.D. track in Science Fiction, Science and Literature in the Department of Comparative Literature. The Department of Creative Writing is conducting a search to fill a position in science fiction writing, and there are plans to hire an additional science fiction scholar next year in another department.

“This will give UCR three active faculty members who specialize in science fiction, providing the nucleus for future campus events and, I hope, for the establishment of an academic unit in Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies,” Latham said.

This is excellent news, and a much-needed boost for the status of science fiction as a legitimate area of study in literature departments. Here's hoping Latham gets his academic unit.

Find out more about the lecture series via UCR.