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10. Time and Identity in Feminist Science Fiction

Jenny Wolmark

Subject Literature

Key-Topics feminism, identity, science fiction

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405112185.2005.00012.x


SF is increasingly recognized for its ability to articulate complex and multifaceted responses to contemporary uncertainties and anxieties, and metaphors drawn from SF have acquired considerable cultural resonance. As a result, writing and reading SF are no longer regarded as marginal cultural activities, and feminist SF writers and critics have made a major contribution to this shift of emphasis. As Brooks Landon has suggested, the fruitful relationship between SF and feminism is “perhaps the most important single development in SF since the 1970s” (2002: 124). Like all SF narratives, feminist SF provides an imaginative space in which things are shown “not as they characteristically or habitually are but as they might be” ( Russ 1972 : 79). However, feminist SF emphasizes the significance of the social and cultural construction of gender and identity in a way that other SF narratives do not, and in so doing they make provision for the creation of what Elisabeth Grosz has described as a “conceptual space such that an indeterminable future is open to women”(2000: 1017). The fluid and often unstable temporal landscapes of feminist SF create a symbolic space within which fixed notions of subjectivity and identity are challenged, and the dynamic between being and becoming is explored. My intention in this chapter is to suggest that there is interesting convergence of concerns in feminist ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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