Elif Sendur (Rutgers University-New Brunswick)
While we may no longer be in the era of binary adjectives classifying bodies into categories that blind them into the oblivion of male and female, the representation of the female body still lacks the means to escape its demarcations. Today, in both novel and film, a disruptive, secondary female character that destructs, tricks or merely accompanies the male body is a common if not normal part of the narrative. This latter is usually perfect in proportions, immobile and does not use her body except for its own objectification. Yet, fictional or science fictional representation of female body is breaking away from this secondary characterization. Especially genres such as New Weird and Slipstream leave aside the notion of a homogeneous, orderly body – usually represented by a heteronormative male character- for a disorderly, multiplicity that can become something or someone else entirely.
Interestingly enough, it is often female figures that lead this becoming other. For instance, in the works of Jeff VanderMeer, we see women who transgress the limits of humanity and illustrate Haraway’s cyborgs in flesh and blood. These woman can put themselves in the mind of another, be it an alien or an animal. They do so, in and through their bodies that bleed, extend and experiment beyond their limits. By the same token, Norihiro Yagi’s Claymores are monstrous female bodies with control of their body; something that their male counterparts sorely lack.All in all, rather than a side character that appears to fill a insignificant void defined by the male gaze, these fictional characters are prime movers that seek, move, bleed, excrete yet still form the narrative. This panel asks for papers exploring the representation of the female body in science fiction where this body does overturn the norm in favor of endless possibilities. How is it possible to imagine a female body that enables becoming and movement rather than follows and gets subsumed? How and why is such a shift possible and what does it do for the reader?
Topics include but not limited to:
- Monstrous bodies
- Figure of femme fatales
- Trans and Gender non-conforming representations
- Bleeding, oozing bodies
- Becoming versus being of the female body
- Race and representation of racial female body in science fiction
- Non-binary distinctions and representations of multiplicities