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IMMA Reading Group: Octavia Butler: Xenogenesis Trilogy 

To register your place please refer to the ‘Registration Details’ section further down this page.

Led by Dr John Wilkins, this guided reading group will meet once a month to discuss the three books of Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis Trilogy: Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago. Butler’s Xenogenesis Trilogy speculates on the nature of time travel might and the question of human nature’s connection to the essentialism of human genetics. These questions allow explorations of concepts such as the trauma of enslavement and the fight for freedom.

This reading group is taking place in the context of IMMA’s current exhibition The Otolith Group: Xenogenesis which is named after Octavia Butler’s title for her science fiction novels the Xenogenesis Trilogy.  The Otolith Group’s pioneering artworks which include post-cinematic essayist films, videos and multiple screen installations address contemporary social and planetary issues, the disruptions of neo/colonialism, the way in which humans have impacted the earth, and the influence of new technology on consciousness. The exhibition is a scaffolding that allows audiences to navigate modes of conceptualising methodologies and collaborations to question the essential nature of race, gender, and national identity. To establish intergenerational continuities of the black avant-garde, the Otolith Group draws on the science fiction writings of Octavia Butler where her work is an informing presence that precedes and postdates the work.

The Reading Group will be held on the 13 October, 17 November and 8 December.  The novels will be presented in chronological order over these dates and Butler’s reading will be underpinned by additional readings from black cultural and literary theorists such as Henry Louis Gates, Jr.; Ta-Nehisi Coates; and belle hooks.

This reading group is part of the Department of Xenogenesis (DXG) at IMMA, a time space enacted by the Otolith Group for convening public online and offline discussions, performance, screenings and exhibitions with artists, filmmakers, theorists and musicians. The DXG builds upon the exhibition and has developed throughout the tour.

This reading group is open to anyone with an interest in the work of Octavia Butler and it will be of particular interest to artists, curators, cultural and political theorists, art critics and students. Each session will focus on a text from the Xenogenesis Trilogy.

Excerpts of readings will be circulated in PDF format in advance of the session. Purchasing texts is not essential to participation but information can be provided on where participants can acquire texts and publications locally if you wish to do so.

For further information or to register contact Lisa Moran, Curator: Engagement and Learning via [email protected].



Thursday, 13 October, 6.30pm – 8.00pm

SESSION 2: Adulthood Rites
Thursday, 17 October, 6.30pm – 8.00pm

SESSION 3: Imago
Thursday, 8 December, 6.30pm – 8.00pm

All three reading group sessions will take place in Studio 8.

Registration Details

To register, please title your email IMMA Reading Group #5 and send the following information to [email protected]

  • Name
  • Contact email address
  • a brief statement indicating why you wish to join the reading group
  • Confirm that you are available to read one or two preparatory readings in advance of each session.

All sessions will take place in the Department of Xenogenesis in Studio Street in IMMA. Registration is essential and reading material and further information will be sent following registration.

  • Participation is free.
  • Places are limited so pre-registration is necessary.
  • The series is open to anyone with an interest in the work of Octavia Butler, science fiction, critical race theory, racial essentialism.
  • No prior knowledge of the work of Octavia Butler or art/visual culture is required.
  • Applicants must be available to undertake readings in advance of attending each session. Readings will be sent to group members via email in advance of each session.



The Octavia Butler Xenogenesis guided reading group is led by Dr John Wilkins.

Dr John Wilkins is an Irish Research Council Enterprise postdoctoral fellow working with both IMMA and Trinity College Dublin. He earned his PhD from Trinity College Dublin’s School of English and he is a lecturer and researcher of Black, Queer and Gender studies.


This initiative is supported by the Irish Research Council

Irish Research Council

Irish Research Council

Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June.  A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. While we prepare to open our next exhibition Hilary Heron: A Retrospective on 24 May, there are two exhibitions to see Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s gardens and café are open to the public.