"To Feel with Other Beings" Affect and Activism in New Wave Feminist Science Fiction
AuthorWilhoit, Sarah Josephine
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation considers the ways in which New Wave feminist science fiction writers use affect to disrupt the hierarchical thinking that grounds structures of oppression such as patriarchy and capitalism. While many sf scholars, such as Fredric Jameson, Tom Moylan, Raffaela Baccolini, Lisa Yaszek, and Rebekah Sheldon, have traced the significant contributions of feminist science fiction to the American literary tradition, there has yet to be a consideration of how affect informs the form, content, and readership of these works. This project traces how the feminist sf writers Ursula K. Le Guin, James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon), Joanna Russ, and Marge Piercy not only center affect in their plot, characterization, ethos, and narratology, but also how they use scalar shifts to reveal how interpersonal interactions can undermine the constraints of institutionalism. Through this intimate focus, they expose flaws in the troubling logics of patriarchy, capitalism, and commonly used literary archetypes. I ultimately argue that the affective modalities of empathy, camp, rage, and precarity help to reveal the human costs associated with hierarchical thinking and systems. Through these modalities, feminist sf writers often map out alternative and more equitable ways of conceptualizing the differences between peoples.
Degree ProgramGraduate College