Guest Speaker: Jane Donawerth, March 10th, 2011
Title: "Technologies of Gender: Science in Science Fiction by Women in the Pulp Magazines"
Speaker: Jane Donawerth, UM College Park
Place & Time: March 10th, 4pm in the Kuhn Gallery
Sponsored by the English Department, Friends of the A.O. Kuhn Library and Gallery, and the Gender and Women's Studies Progra.
From 1926, when the science fiction magazines and fan clubs were invented by Hugo Gernsback, until 1960, when the paperback novel took over the sf market, the magazines printed on cheap, over-sized wood-pulp paper with garish covers were the primary venue for publishing science fiction. For quite a while, science fiction history ignored women writers in the pulps, but they were there. Even today, many historians assume that women writers wrote a kind of domestic science fiction--one 1950s editor called it "diaper sf"--and left the "hard" science to the men. In this lecture, Professor Donawerth contests this assumption and explores the science in women's short fiction. Drawing on the SF collections of UMBC, Penn State, and the Toronto Public Library Judith Merril Collection, Professor Donawerth considers the invention of prostheses and blood transfusion in stories by Clare Winger Harris and Kathleen Ludwick, the science of reproduction and contraception in fiction by Katherine Maclean and Eileen Gunn, and the development of television in works by C. L. Moore and James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon). Bound by constraints of gender but not always limited by them, women writers often deploy representations of science in their science fiction to explore anxieties about women's roles--about the body and its parts and the ways we use them to construct masculinity and femininity; about reproduction, reluctance to reproduce, and the science that might substitute for women's wombs; and about women as communicators and technologies of connection and alienation.
Jane Donawerth is a Professor of English and Affiliate in Women's Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. She has published articles on sf in Extrapolation, Science Fiction Studies, and PMLA, co-edited with Carol Kolmerten of Hood College Utopian and Science Fiction by Women: Worlds of Difference, and authored Frankenstein's Daughters: Women Writing Science Fiction. She won the International Association for Fantasy and the Arts Career Award for her work on gender and science fiction. She has also taught and published widely on Shakespeare, early modern women writers, and history of rhetorical theory by women. She is currently working on a book on the science in science fiction by women in the pulp magazines.