Francis Bodomo, Afronauts

Feminist Science Fiction

Instructor: Rebecca Ariel Porte
The Barnard Center for Research on Women
3009 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

The world is not usually imagined for the benefit of women. What can feminist science fiction tell us about these oppressive arrangements and how the world might be otherwise? What makes a work of science fiction feminist? From utopia to dystopia, satire to space opera, in what ways does science fiction hold up a mirror to difficult realties? This course offers a selective introduction to critical themes in twentieth and twenty-first century feminist science fiction: utopia, dystopia, and heterotopia, experimental social forms, gender, race, sex and the body, postcolonial imaginaries, speculative ecologies, imaginative failure and imaginative expansion.

Pairing long- and short-form fiction with philosophical and theoretical supplements, we will ask the following questions: When is science fiction feminist? When is feminism a form of science fiction? How should we understand science fiction as a genre or a literary form? What are the attractions of science fiction for feminist projects, whether political, ethical or aesthetic, descriptive or prescriptive? And what are the capabilities and limits of science fiction when it comes to imagining the world differently? What do the tropes, gestures, and inventions of feminist science fiction have to tell us about history and about our own relationship to the present moment?

Primary texts are likely to draw from the work of Octavia Butler, Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, N.K. Jemisin, Ursula K. Le Guin, Karen Lord, Kuzhali Manickavel, James Tiptree Jr., Sofia Samatar, and Lidia Yuknavitch. Critical complements will include Samuel R. Delany, Shulamith Firestone, Donna Haraway, Fredric Jameson, Marge Piercy, and Joanna Russ.

Course Schedule

Monday, 6:30-9:30pm
March 02 — March 30, 2020
4 sessions over 5 weeks
Class will not meet Monday, March 16th.


Registration Open