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Title: Re-visioning feminist futures : literature as social theory
Author: Haran, Joan
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2003
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This thesis explores the relationships between science fiction, social theory and social transformation through an in-depth analysis of three feminist science fiction novels. It develops innovative reading practices that bring together narrative theories and methodologies from a range of disciplines, including Sociology, Cultural Studies and Literary Studies. With reference to feminist psychoanalytic theory, the thesis also develops an original theorisation of the 'utopian impulse' and the workings of passionate identification in the formation of interpretive communities, with particular reference to feminist, social theoretical, and science fiction (fan) communities. The three novels focused on — The Gate to Women's Country, Body of Glass and The Fifth Sacred Thing — were selected because they crystallise an extensive range of debates conducted in a period of productive crisis for feminist theory and praxis from the mid 1980s through the mid 1990s. The thesis conducts an in-depth analysis of the transformations in social relations, including intimate social relations, that the novels theorise are necessary for the re-visioning of feminist futures. These include issues surrounding Sex, Gender and Sexuality; Mothering and Fatherhood; the relationship between investments in Spirituality, Technology and Hope for the Future. These debates are all set in the larger context of the historical (and epistemological) rupture between Modern and Post-Modern thought caused by the traumatic events of the Holocaust. The thesis argues that the heteroglossic genre possibilities of science fiction enable the novel texts to embody diverse strands of contestatory feminist theorising. They can thus hold open debates that might be foreclosed in more academic genres of theory that prefer texts to embody a single coherent authorial voice. Throughout the thesis I argue that this is a particularly timely moment to examine such questions, when feminist theory in the academy is apparently dominated by post-structuralist theory, and other feminist theories, namely those clustered around radical feminism, have been and continue to be abjected. I argue that feminist hope for the future requires that no feminist theories should simply be rejected, but that they require conscientious re-readings. Feminists, I argue, must take account of their passionate longings for inclusion in feminist interpretive communities as well as the pain caused when feminist theories exclude their subjective experience and / or alternative theories. The reading practices that can be developed when reading feminist science fiction can facilitate such a process.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council (Great Britain) (ESRC) (R00429834447)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HQ The family. Marriage. Woman ; PS American literature