I Care So Much It Makes Me Angry: Joanna Russ and Feminist Science Fiction (Panel)

Women's and Gender Studies / Comparative Literature

Jess Flarity (University of New Hampshire)

Joanna Russ once infamously responded to a graduate student who she thought was misinterpreting her works with the line, “I think from now on, I will not trust anyone who isn’t angry.” The goal of this panel is to explore the simmering, feminist rage within Russ’ and other women’s science fiction novels, short stories, and essays in an intersectional approach that combines ideas from prominent feminists and reader response theory, as well as possibly incorporates ideas from queer theory, (dis)ability theory, or critical race studies. Can anger be a type of care? When does rage simply transform into a force of destruction? In a post-Trump and (hopefully) post-covid United States where women’s reproductive rights are still under constant legal threat, as the #MeToo movement enters its fifth year in popular consciousness, when does feminine/feminist anger become more harmful than it is useful? Can science fiction be used as a tool that shows the limits of anger’s “benefit threshold”? More writers up for analysis in this panel are Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, Kij Johnson, and other contemporary works of science fiction, while theorists to consider include Pankaj Mishra and Sami Schalk, as well as men’s response to women’s anger through masculinity studies. In our technocratic age of mass online harassment, systemic racism and sexism, and institutional neglect, how have Russ and other women writers made their readers care enough to get angry along with them?
This panel seeks to explore anger in feminism and science fiction, specifically in the works of Joanna Russ, analyzing the transition points where rage no longer originates from a place of care, but shifts to become a harmful or destructive force.