Let's just steal the rockets: 1970s feminist science fiction as radical rhetorical revisioning

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Patrick Nolan Belk (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Hephzibah Roskelly

Abstract: Feminist utopian writings from the 1970s included a clearly defined rhetorical purpose: to undermine the assumption of hidden male privilege in language and society. The creative conversation defining this rhetorical purpose gives evidence of a community of peers engaging in invention as a social act even while publishing separately. Writers including Samuel Delany, Joanna Russ, James Tiptree, Jr., and Ursula Le Guin were writing science fiction as well as communicating regularly with one another during the same moments that they were becoming fully conscious of the need to express the experiences of women (and others) in American literary and academic society. These creative artists formed a group of loosely affiliated peers who had evolved to the same basic conclusion concerning the need for a literature and theory that could finally address the science of social justice. Their literary productions have been well-studied as contemporaneous feminist utopias since Russ's 1981 essay "Recent Feminist Utopias." However, much can be understood about their rhetorical process of spreading the meme of feminist equality once we go beyond the literary productions and more closely examine their letters, essays, and commentary. This dissertation will show that this group of utopian fiction writers can be studied as exactly that: a loosely connected, collaborative, creative group of peers with specific ideas about how humanity could be better if assumptions of male superiority were undermined and with the rhetorical means to spread those ideas in ways which changed the literary and social conversation.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
Feminism, Joanna Russ, Rhetoric, Science Fiction, Ursula Le Guin, Utopia
Feminism and literature $z United States $x History $y 20th century
Science fiction, American $x History and criticism
Feminist fiction, American $x History and criticism
Utopias in literature

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