Wednesday, 22 September 2010

New Femspec Blog

Apparently there's a new blog for Femspec. You should visit there for news:

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

CFP: “Extraordinary Women”

“Extraordinary Women”

Femspec, an interdisciplinary feminist journal dedicated to SF,
fantasy, magical realism, surrealism, myth, folklore, and other supernatural genres, welcomes submissions for “Extraordinary Women,” a special issue or themed section dedicated to women and disability.

In her book Extraordinary Bodies, Rosemarie Garland Thomson establishes that “Many parallels exist between the social meanings attributed to female bodies and those assigned to20disabled bodies.” We are interested in critical and creative works, including memoir and nonfiction narrative, that explore these parallels.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

Aliens and freaks
Disability, technology, and the cyborg
Adaptation and survival
Women with disabilities in myth and folklore
Disability and feminist spirituality
The “alien” experience of being a woman with a disability
Intervention and accommodation (alien, supernatural, technological, or other)
"(Un)natural” women
Ability/Disability in Octavia Butler’s work
Writing, feminism, disability
“Coming out” as non-normate (disabled, queer, other?)
Passing” as normate

Please submit three copies of your piece to Deborah Bailin at this address: 2101 Susquehanna Hall, English Department, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742.

Submissions must *exclude* any indication of your name on them so that your piece may be read anonymously.

Include a separate sheet with the title and genre of your piece, your name, address, email, phone and a two sentence abstract.

Also, include a disc with your document in Word and RTF format. All submissions should conform to MLA standards, as found in the latest edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. MLA guidelines can also be found on-line at

Any submission that does not come in with sufficient copies will not be sent through the review process. We will accept submissions through June 1, 2009.

Please note that only subscribers may submit to Femspec. To subscribe, go to

All editorial enquiries should be e-mailed to Batya Weinbaum at

Monday, 19 January 2009

CFP: Special Issue to Honor Paula Gunn Allen

FemSpec, an “interdisciplinary feminist journal dedicated to critical and creative works in the realms of SF, fantasy, magical realism, myth, folklore, and other supernatural genres,” is accepting submissions for a special issue to honor Paula Gunn Allen (PGA) tentatively scheduled for Fall 2009.

Topics may be stimulated by, but are not limited to, concerns raised in her interview with John Purdy in 1997 ("And Then, Twenty Years Later . . .": A Conversation with Paula Gunn Allen, by John Purdy, Studies in American Indian Literatures, 9(3), 5-16, Fall 1997 retrieved 8/19/2008 from 20 years after the Flagstaff conference that resulted in the Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures, PGA identified continuing issues in Native American literary criticism in the context of a major shift:

1] “There was nothing then, and now there's everything.” We welcome essays that detail or engage her contributions to that shift, and/or that identify, assess, and/or remedy problems in the field.

2] “Something was said today, something about answers. And I wanted to say, no, no, no. That's not the point. It's not about answers; it's about good questions.” Building on any of the questions PGA’s work asks us to consider, how can we develop continuing lines of inquiry? For example, in Sacred Hoop she demonstrates that we need not reinvent the wheel with imagined gynocracies. How does the paradigm she describes inform Native American women’s literature?

3] “Very little of our literature is the literature of protest, of oppression … Most of it is the literature of the spirit or the literature of ritual. Almost all of it is, call it political voice and drama, is always informed by the presence of this knowledge that there is always this other world, with which we are always engaged. It isn't over "there" somewhere; it's in our presence and our midst and we are in its presence and its midst.” Feminist speculative literature is predicated on “what ifs.” If we were to continue as we are – what would future dystopias be like? If we were to dismantle oppressive cultural schemata (race, class, sexuality, ability, gender) and live according to an egalitarian paradigm – what could future utopias be like? PGA’s work can push these queries further. For example: what are the implications of an equi-present spirit world for the dystopia/utopia binary?

4] “My own calling has always been of the spirit ...” What are the relationships between women’s speculative literature, criticism, and spirit work?

We seek critical articles, artwork, poetry, and fiction. Articles and fiction can be up to 15 pages. All submissions should conform to MLA standards (see For further information, please contact special issue guest editor, Menoukha Case, at

Submissions marked "PGA" should be sent to:
Menoukha Case
POB 51
Gt. Barrington, MA 01230-0051

Please submit 4 copies on which your name, address, and contact points do NOT appear, accompanied by a separate page that includes title, genre, your name, address, phone, and email. Submissions with insufficient copies will not be sent through the review process. To submit, you must be a subscriber for calendar year 2009. To subscribe, include a check made out to FemSpec or subscribe on line and send a print out of the receipt with your manuscript. Full price is $40, low income price is $25. Ask your library, public or institutional, to subscribe.

Deadline: June 15, 2009

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Patricia Melzer. Alien Constructions Science Fiction and Feminist Thought.

The road from successfully defended dissertation to published book is proven yet again to be long and winding. Patricia Melzer’s dissertation Alien Constructions: Science Fiction and Feminist Theories—defended in 2002—finally saw the light in 2006 under the eerily-similar sounding title: Alien Constructions: Science Fiction and Feminist Thought. Both works share the same subjects of study: the Alien tetralogy (Alien vs. Predator is not included), Octavia Butler, and the Matrix movies. Being unfamiliar with Melzer’s work made me apprehensive as I did not know what type of “analysis” to expect from her, esspecially when applied to the films she chose to dissect. Furthermore, when it comes to Matrix-related criticism, I doubted anything could top William Irwin’s edited The Matrix and Philosophy (Open Court Publishing, 2003) and other studies I had read related to Matrix criticism. Nevertheless, Melzer’s feminist approach made me a believer of the adage I’ve just created: nothing is old under the sun.

Melzer is not alone in her field, and neither is The University of Texas Press unique in publishing her study. Said press is one of the few that constantly explore issues of speculative feminist science fiction by publishing academic studies from the likes of Melzer and Batya Weinbaum (whose Islands of Women and Amazons: Representations and Realities is out-of-print and whose second critical study for The University of Texas Press has gotten bogged down by unusual editorial politics). Perhaps, something else that Melzer, Weinbaum and others share is their affinity for Butler, a sci-fi author at the center of some of Melzer’s most profound analysis

The book itself is organized in a very geometrical fashion with three sections and two chapters each. In the first section, “Difference, Identity, and Colonial Experience in Feminist Science Fiction,” Melzer dedicates her analysis to Butler’s Survivor, Dawn, Wild Seed and Imago. The chapters that comprise this section allude inevitably to the fear of the other, to that which is different from our selves. While the “different body” may be of an alien in Butler’s work, it is a reference to the alienation that the author felt because of her race and gender. In the second section “Technologies and Gender in Science Fiction Film,” the critic concentrates her analytical talents to deconstructing—from a feminist point of view—two of the most beloved sci-fi franchises. Melzer resorts to the study of science fiction films in order to expound theories of female corporeality by way of the Alien franchise film products that refer—yet again—to “the Other.” The Wachowski Brothers Matrix films broke new ground in science fiction mythology and, as Melzer affirms, also explore issues of humanity and post-humanity, the appropriation of “the Other,” and the oppression of the individual. The third and final section, “Posthuman Embodiment: Deviant Bodies, Desires, and Feminist Politics” explores said topics in science fiction works from Richard Calder’s Dead Girls, Melissa Scott’s Shadow Man and Butler’s Wild Seed and Imago. This final section emphasizes, according to Melzer, “sexual difference and the process of regulating desires for ‘unfamiliar’ bodies by declaring them as perverse” (177).

After reading Melzer’s study, it is easy to see why it was nominated for the 2007 Lambda Literary Award in the LGBT Studies category. It is an acute critical work and one that Melzer will be hard pressed to surpass, which is why it is all the more disconcerting to know that Alien Constructions: Science Fiction and Feminist Thought lost the aforementioned literary award to Their Own Receive Them Not by Horace L. Griffin (Pilgrim Press). I am not familiar with Griffin’s work, but had I been able to, I would have voted for Melzer. The excellence of Alien Constructions makes me look forward to the work she is currently the editor for: I’ve been a woman I-don’t know-how-many-times: A Critical Tribute to the Work of Octavia E. Butler. It promises to be a thorough investigation into the work of Butler. In sum, Patricia Melzer’s Alien Constructions:Science Fiction and Feminist Thought is an incisive critical work that advances feminist critical approaches to science fiction that extol female-centric narratives. Melzer is an original critic with a unique style to organizing her discussion and thoughts. She could, very well become, the “go-to” literary critic of science fiction-centered feminist thought or “intergalactic feminism”.

Review of Alien Constructions by Gerardo T. Cummings printed in FEMSPEC 8.1/2

Wednesday, 11 June 2008


BATYA WEINBAUM. Editorial Remarks.
Getting the Mad People Out of My Attic: Not an Advertisement for Myself.
Batya Weinbaum introduces this special issue on tenure, promotion and women in academia.



TINA ANDRES. Growing Thick Skin.
Tina Andres reflects on her life experiences within academic and engineering culture.

HELEN BANNAN. Derailed but Not Defeated.
Helen Bannan writes about the long road to tenure which began in interdisciplinary social science program in 1969.

JANE DAVIS. The Value of Stupidity: Negative Values in Academia.
Jane Davis documents her experiences in academia and tries to understand why racist behaviour is still tolerated within North American Universities.

LINDA HOLLAND-TOLL. What to Do When You Are Stuck at Toxic U: Strategies for Avoidance, Sabotage, and Survival.
Linda Holland-Toll offers ten rules to other academics "to help you avoid digging your own pit and tumbling into it."

RUTH PANOFSKY. Professor/Mother: The Unhappy Partnership.
Ruth Panofsky writes about the paradoxes and problems encountered by academic women who are also mothers.

BATYA WEINBAUM. Memoirs of an Academic Career
Batya Weinbaum reflects on How Buddhism and the act of going on retreat has helped her the many problems she has faced in her academic career.


PAT ORTMAN. Don’t Tread on Me: Painting My Way Through.
Pat Ortman talks about how loosing tenure helped her re-discover her love for painting.

BATYA WEINBAUM. Waiting for Justice: Scene for TV.
A short drama about a legal gender discrimination case.

A cautionary tale about applying for 'New Blood' appointments in England.



GERALDINE WOJNA KIEFER. Overlays, Matrices, and Boundaries: A “Mixed-Media” Approach in Pedagogy and Art.
Geraldine Wojna Kiefer's essay maps out her methods for linking teaching and creativity in her drawing and art history classes.


K.A. LAITY. Eating the Dream.
A hungry visitor tours America in a rusty Honda Civic.


LOUISE MOORE. Joan of Arc, Circe, Cassandra, The Annunciation Angel.
4 poems by Louise Moore.


ARDYS DELU. Review of Feminists Who Changed America 1963-1975 Edited by Barabara J Love.
ARDYS DELU. Review of Daughters of the Great Star by Diana Rivers
ARDYS DELU. Review of the Code Pink Women for Peace fund-raiser.
ARDYS DELU. Review of The Red Rose Rages (Bleeding): A short novel by L Timmel Duchamp.
ARDYS DELU. Review of On We, Robots by Sue Lange.
RITCH CALVIN. Review of Naomi Mitchison: A Profile of Her Life and Work by Lesley A Hall.
LYNN REED. Review of Becoming the Villanness by Jeannine Hall Gailey.
BATYA WEINBAUM. Review of Fissures directed by Alante Alfandari.
GERARDO CUMMINGS. Review of Alien Constructions: Science Fiction and Feminist
Thought by Patricia Melzer.

JAMES D. BROWN. Review of Paprika directed by Satoshi Kon


GLORIA ORENSTEIN. Gertrude Stein as Mentor and Passing the Flame.


ARDYS DELU. Grace Paley (December 11, 1922 - August 22, 2007)


15 titles of interest.

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Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Rikki Ducornet receives lifetime achievement award

On May 21 the American Academy of Arts and Letters gave Rikki Ducornet a lifetime achievement award for her novels and short stories. Dalkey Archive will publish her new collection of stories, The One Marvelous Thing, in November. The award is considered one of the highest formal recognitions of artistic merit in the United States.
In the Independent Weekly Ducornet stated that she was, "astonished and delighted. It’s such a lonely job to write books. I write books that are very strange. To have anyone respond to them is delightful."

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Tiptree Award announced: The Carhullan Army by Sarah Hall

The James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council announced that the winner of the 2007 Tiptree Award is:

The Carhullan Army by Sarah Hall (published in the United States as Daughters of the North).

The 2007 Tiptree Award Honor List is:
  • "Dangerous Space" by Kelley Eskridge, in the author’s collection Dangerous Space (Aqueduct Press, 2007)
  • Water Logic by Laurie Marks (Small Beer Press, 2007)
  • Empress of Mijak and The Riven Kingdom by Karen Miller (HarperCollins, Australia, 2007)
  • The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu (Hyperion, 2007)
  • Interfictions, edited by Delia Sherman and Theodora Goss (Interstitial Arts Foundation/Small Beer Press, 2007)
  • Glasshouse by Charles Stross (Ace, 2006)
  • The Margarets by Sheri S. Tepper (Harper Collins 2007)
  • Y: The Last Man, written by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Pia Guerra (available in 60 issues or 10 volumes from DC/Vertigo Comics, 2002-2008)
  • Flora Segunda by Ysabeau Wilce (Harcourt, 2007)
more info from Gwenda Bond here and The Tiptree site here