To Write Like a Woman: Gender and Science Fiction (Part 1) (Panel)

Women's and Gender Studies / Cultural Studies and Media Studies

Martin Goffeney (University at Buffalo, SUNY)

Kellie Sharp (University at Buffalo, SUNY)

If one were to judge the genre of science fiction by the blockbuster films it has produced, one would think it is a hypermasculine, imperialist, anti-feminist genre. However, non-white, non-male people have shaped, defined, and sustained the genre throughout its existence as authors, editors, and fans. The modern founder of the genre was arguably Mary Shelley who initially published anonymously. However, authors like Ursula Le Guin and Octavia Butler are now synonymous with literary sci-fi. Furthermore, some of the most compelling and successful contemporary writers of science fiction are women of color. This shows how the genre has been consistently built by women while at the same time, the recognition for women’s contributions has grown and the diversity of perspectives has continued to evolve. But there remains far more work to be done.

In this panel we invite projects related to the role of women, trans and non-binary people in science fiction as well as explorations of the role of gender in the genre. Some questions that could be investigated include:

--What role have women, trans, and non-binary people had in shaping the genre?

--More specifically, what role have women, trans, and non-binary people of color had in shaping the genre?

--How has the genre allowed for expansive definitions of gender and sexuality?

--How is the genre uniquely suited for feminist and queer critiques of culture?

--Conversely, how has it historically foreclosed the possibilities of gender and sexuality?

--How does world building play a part in feminist and/or queer interventions in the genre?

--How has the genre been theorized and how does gender and sexuality play a role in that theorization?

This panel explores the relationship between gender and the evolution of the genre of science fiction.