WGS 399 – Feminist Science Fiction: Monsters, Cyborgs, and Women
Science fiction (SF) explores our hopes and fears surrounding technological development and its impact on society. From the inception of the genre, women writers have used SF to articulate their visions of scientific power and its relationship to women. Questions of science’s capabilities fill Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, arguably the first SF novel. Like many SF novels by women, Frankenstein puts issues of science, creation, monstrosity, and gender at its center.
This course will explore the legacy of Frankenstein in feminist theory and literature as well as in popular culture and will examine contemporary responses to issues of reproductive technology, genetic engineering, and cybernetics (among others).
Although women are usually seen as marginalized in SF, this course seeks to demonstrate that the genre can give women a voice in scientific discourse and imagination.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein
Piercy, Marge. He, She, and It
Reading: Tiptree, “The Women Men Don’t See” (handout)
Reading: Shelley, Frankenstein
Videos: excerpts from films that use “Frankenstein” motif
Reading: Moore, “No Woman Born,” McCaffrey, “The Ship Who Sang” OR Murphy, “Rachel in Love”
FRANKENSTEIN’S CREATURE BECOMES A CYBORG
Reading: Piercy, He, She, and It, Chapter 1 - 26
Video: excerpts from Blade Runner
Reading: He, She, and It, finish
Reading: Haraway, “Cyborg Manifesto”
Reading: Cadigan, “Rock On,” Gibson, “Johnny Mnemonic” (optional) Video: excerpts from anime (TBA)
STAR TREK: THE FANS, THE BORG
Reading: Star Trek slash (handout), Russ, “SF and Technology as Mystification” OR Sobstyl, “We Who Are Borg, Are We Borg?”, Jenkins, “Television Fans, Poachers, Nomads” (optional)
Video: Star Trek episode (TBA)
Videos: excerpts from Alien, Aliens, Alien 3
Videos: Alien Resurrection
Guest Speaker: Karelia Stetz
REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGIES – FACT AND FICTION
Reading: Butler, “Bloodchild”
Butler, Octavia. “Bloodchild.” Women of Wonder: The Contemporary Years. 1984. Ed. Pamela Sargent. San Diego: Harvest, 1995. 123–140.
Cadigan, Pat. “Rock On.” Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology. 1984. Ed. Bruce Sterling. New York, Ace Books, 1986. 34–42.
Gibson, William. “Johnny Mnemonic.” Burning Chrome. New York: William Morrow & Company, 1986.
Haraway, Donna. “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century.” Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. 1983. New York: Routledge, 1991. 149–81.
Jenkins, Henry. “Television Fans, Poachers, Nomads.” The Subcultures Reader. 1992. Ed. Ken Gelder and Sarah Thompson. London: Routledge, 1997. 506–522.
McCaffrey, Anne. “The Ship Who Sang.” Women of Wonder: The Classic Years. 1961. Ed. Pamela Sargent. San Diego: Harvest, 1995. 167–84.
Moore, C. L. “No Woman Born.” Women of Wonder: The Classic Years. 1944. Ed. Pamela Sargent. San Diego: Harvest, 1995. 21–64.
Murphy. Pat. “Rachel in Love.” 1987. Women of Wonder: The Contemporary Years. 1984. Ed. Pamela Sargent. San Diego: Harvest, 1995. 206–232.
Piercy, Marge. He, She, and It. New York: Ballantine Books, 1991.
Russ, Joanna. “SF and Technology as Mystification.” To Write Like a Woman: Essays in Feminist and Science Fiction. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995. 26–40.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. 1818. London: Penguin, 1994.
Sobstyl, Edrie. “We Who Are Borg, Are We Borg?” Athena’s Daughters: New Women Warriors on Television. Ed. Kathleen Kennedy and Frances Early. New York: SUNY Press, 2003. 119–132.
Tiptree, Jr., James. “The Women Men Don’t See.” Women of Wonder: The Classic Years. 1973. Ed. Pamela Sargent. San Diego: Harvest, 1995. 308–334.