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Publication Date

2011-06-03

Availability

UM campus only

Embargo Period

2011-06-03

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

English (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2011-05-09

First Committee Member

Brenna M. Munro

Second Committee Member

Patrick A. McCarthy

Third Committee Member

Pamela Hammons

Fourth Committee Member

Raffaella Baccolini

Abstract

This dissertation explores the ways that women authors of science fiction have altered conventions of utopia and science fiction in order to revise conceptions of gender, sexuality, the body, and the environment. I examine several twentieth-century feminist critical dystopias that continue to betray genre and form, and to shape the science fiction being written at this moment. Each of the works demonstrates particular elements that facilitate its revisionary power: challenging and deconstructing sex/gender systems, blending utopian and dystopian conventions, and engaging in temporal play. By doing so they accomplish a range of tasks: disrupting generic and historical conventions, blending genres, redefining utopia, and making connections with present realities in order to make a case for social change, particularly for female and queer subjects. Though many of the texts are considered canonical by sf standards, and have been widely praised and critiqued in academic publications, each one continues its project of resistance in the light of the genre and of ever-evolving theories of gender, sexuality, race, and identity. As a scholar of gender and queer theory, I find within sf an extraordinary realm of potential for those willing to challenge norms and imagine new possibilities. In their rejection of system and form, the authors render impure the genre of science fiction, providing a new space in which utopian ideals can become literary and cultural resistance.

Keywords

science fiction; utopia; dystopia; feminist science fiction; queer science fiction; temporality

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