Thursday, 28 February 2008

Call for Papers: Representations of Women and Science

Tip from Laura Q over at Feminist SF - The Blog! from the science and literature reading group:

Université Stendhal Grenoble III
UFR d'Etudes Anglophones CEMRA 3016
4-6 June 2009
International pluridisciplinary conference

Women in science, Women of science: figures and representations from 18th

century to present.

Scientific knowledge has always been, both empirically and politically, a
masculine stronghold. Since the mid-19th century, however, despite
institutional and cultural resistance, women have progressively gained
access to scientific studies and careers.

The first theme of study will focus on emblematic female scientists of the
18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Papers may concentrate on historical,
social and political analyses of how, why and when women "infiltrated" the
scientific world and (re-) appropriated scientific discourse at different
moments in History. Another possible approach is to analyse the reactions
of the scientific community/ the press… to such women.

The second theme of study will analyse the evolution of (pseudo-)
scientific discourse on women and women's condition (for example medical
or eugenist discourse, etc).

The third theme will be devoted to fictional representations: how does the
popular culture construct and vehicle images of women of science and women
in the world of science? From the famous scientist's wife/daughter to the
androgynous cyborg of feminist science-fiction, to what extent have these
representations evolved over time? What impact did the feminist movement
of the 1970s have on how women are seen and how they see themselves in
relation to the sciences? Papers which include studies of television,
cinema and various genres of pulp-fiction will be welcome.

The conference will be followed by a publication.

Deadline for submissions: November 14th 2008

Please send a 300- to 350- word abstract (in French or in English) to the
And to the research secretary with the heading «WS abstract, copy»

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Monday, 18 February 2008

Sunday, 17 February 2008

This Should Have Been Printed In Femspec

(From Volume 7.2) It was suggested that we start a feature, "This Should Have Been Printed in Femspec," in order to at least point our readers to possible creative works of interest. This might have several purposes, including creating awareness of certain writers for critics to incorporate; providing models to writers who might submit to us; raising awareness of the writers thus recognized that we are an additional venue for their work. Send in ideas of your own. Here is what has been suggested so far:

Nancy Etchemendy. "Werewife." The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June 1 999. A funny story about how a wife changes into another sort of being for the in-laws' visits.

Vance Aandahl. "Deathmatch in Disneyland." The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July 1987. Another funny story, this one about Nature Girl Nelson, a female pro wrestler who is dying of "vegerexia" (eating nothing but vegetables) when she thaws out way into the future.

Kristine Kathryn Rush. "The Women of Whale Rock." The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 1999. A rather weird story, not particularly feminist, but a new take on mermaids.

M. Rickert.'The Girl Who Ate Butterflies." The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August 1 999. Beautiful magical real story that shows the influence of García Márquez.
[Update: Mary Rickert has given us permission to reprint this story here ]

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Transformative Works and Cultures

Transformative Works and Cultures, a new electronic journal published by the Organization for Transformative Works, has just released its first Call for Papers:

Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC) is a Gold Open Access international peer-reviewed journal published by the Organization for Transformative Works edited by Kristina Busse and Karen Hellekson.

TWC publishes articles about popular media, fan communities, and transformative works, broadly conceived. We invite papers on all related topics, including but not limited to fan fiction, fan vids, mashups, machinima, film, TV, anime, comic books, video games, and any and all aspects of the communities of practice that surround them. TWC’s aim is twofold: to provide a publishing outlet that welcomes fan-related topics, and to promote dialogue between the academic community and the fan community.

We encourage innovative works that situate these topics within contemporary culture via a variety of critical approaches, including but not limited to feminism, queer theory, critical race studies, political economy, ethnography, reception theory, literary criticism, film studies, and media studies. We also encourage authors to consider writing personal essays integrated with scholarship, hypertext articles, or other forms that embrace the technical possibilities of the Web and test the limits of the genre of academic writing. Transformative Works and Cultures copyrights under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Theory accepts blind peer-reviewed essays that are often interdisciplinary, with a conceptual focus and a theoretical frame that offers expansive interventions in the field of fan studies (5,000-8,000 words).

Praxis analyzes the particular, in contrast to Theory’s broader vantage. Essays are blind peer reviewed and may apply a specific theory to a formation or artifact; explicate fan practice; perform a detailed reading of a specific text; or otherwise relate transformative phenomena to social, literary, technological, and/or historical frameworks (4,000-7,000 words).

Symposium is a section of editorially reviewed concise, thematically contained short essays that provide insight into current developments and debates surrounding any topic related to fandom or transformative media and cultures (1,500-2,500 words).

Reviews offer critical summaries of items of interest in the fields of fan and media studies, including books, new journals, and Web sites. Reviews incorporate a description of the item’s content, an assessment of its likely audience, and an evaluation of its importance in a larger context (1,500-2,500 words). Review submissions undergo editorial review; submit inquiries first to

TWC has rolling submissions. Contributors should submit online through the Web site

Inquiries may be sent to the editors


Saturday, 2 February 2008

Review of Islands of Women and Amazons

Review from Geografiska Annaler · 87 B (2005) the international journal publishing articles covering all theoretical and empirical aspects of human and economic geography.

Islands of Women and Amazons: Representations

and Realities. Batya Weinbaum. (Austin: University
of Texas Press, 1999). ISBN 0292791267

This ambitious and wide-ranging study explores
material across a very long historical and a very
broad geographical sweep. Batya Weinbaum argues
that the myth of Amazons and of separate
communities of women living apart on islands has
had diverse and often contradictory meanings. She
does not attempt to shape her findings in one direction,
towards a liberal or conservative reading. But
she does underpin her entire assemblage of examples
by her belief in archetypes. The advantage of
this is that it allows her to investigate nuanced similarities
and differences among texts and practices
as far distant from each other as the Odyssey and the
Mexican Marian island, Isla Mujeres, dominated
(and to some degree formed) by American tourism.

The principal disadvantage of her devotion to archetypes
is that, in the end, all this diversity is in
danger of being homogenized.
So her work presents a paradox: encyclopaedic
in its array of instances, prodigious in its devotion
to knowledge of the field, it yet often simplifies the
findings of the many authorities she cites from different
fields of enquiry. They all return, in her analysis,
to the archetype of the Amazon. This makes
for a certain repetitiousness but it would be ungrateful
to insist too much on that, since the work
offers an extraordinary quarry and is the fruit of
long thought and observation.
Weinbaum faces the problem of working with a
rich symbol: where are its boundaries? She opens
her discussion with page after page of provocative
questions, ranging across actual events, story formation,
cultural interpretation, ancient accounts,
recent TV series. This allows her to trawl in copious
records, but after several pages the suspicion gathers
that perhaps for her all these questions have a
single answer. So that moving through Apollonius,
Herodotus, Paul Friedrich, Prester John, Sir John
Mandeville, ‘an early Renaissance Spanish writer’
and a ‘missionary off the coast of China’ to reach
the question ‘Is this the same “Women’s Land” to
which Maxine Hong Kingston referred in Chinamen
(1977)?’ I shout ‘No!’ while uneasily suspecting
that I am supposed to be saying ‘Yes’.
The problem is signalled also by the trouble
Weinbaum has with the frequently repeated word
‘really’: to take some examples from within a halfpage:
‘Was this supposedly manless island to the
south of China really a place where women mated
with the winds?… Did women really arm themselves
with bows and arrows, live without men, and
mate with cannibalistic lovers?… Did Columbus
really think he had arrived in the east when he sighted
the island, Matinoto…? Did Columbus really
take this island to be the refuge the ancients wrote
about in relation to the Themyscian Amazons’
(Jane [1930] 1970)?… Was this present-day tourist
paradise retreat once really a matriarchy? A convent?
A harem? A site of goddess worship?’ (p. 7)
Some of these questions invite scepticism, some
are quite imponderable, and some seem to imply a
steady ‘reality’ behind them by which they can all
be judged, yet for which evidence is lacking. They
issue from a scatter-gun and are gathered up together
without discrimination.
Of course, this is in the first chapter where, engagingly,
Weinbaum seeks to arouse in the reader
a shared fascination with her subject, and some of
her later chapters proceed at a slower pace. For example,
Chapter 8, ‘Amazons go American: Montalvo
’s Sergas De Esplandian’ concentrates on this
single [1510] work after opening with an interesting
comparison with Christine de Pizan’s The Book
of the City of Ladies [1405]. Weinbaum unfolds a
series of gendered contrasts between the texts: for
example, ‘Montalvo’s Amazons killed their male
children, while Pizan’s gave their male children
back to the fathers.’ (p. 129). She then pursues the
insight that one culture’s utopia may well be another
culture’s dystopia and that texts preserve faint
traces of earlier understandings in among their asserted
ideologies. In particular, she argues, this will
be so where oral elements have penetrated the written
form. These may not be fresh insights within the
academic communities from whose work she
draws, but there is a freshness in placing them within
such a sweeping study, and one that also frankly
embraces autobiographical elements.
The second part of the work draws on anthropology,
sociology, popular culture and tourism to give
a rounded picture of the changes in her relations to
her materials. She has lived for a number of years
on the Mexican island she has particularly studied,
Isla Mujeres, and she gives a wry account of culture
clashes brought about by her trajectory between a
North American university and the habits of the island
culture. She declares: ‘My experience of seeking
a cultural identity on the island, and of the discrediting
dominant culture of the university, colors
all my interpretations’ (p. 168). The rest of the book
explores the ways in which, in her analysis, that island
becomes a communal work of fiction created
by tourists and their mentors. What they all seek,
she suggests, is exactly that archetype of matriarchal
untouched female space she associates with
the figure of the Amazon. So the book comes to rest
in a demonstration of the ways in which material
objects in ‘leisure primitivism’ bear on persisting
needs and fantasies across centuries. Whether or
not one accepts Weinbaum’s belief in an archetypal
base to all this diversity of expression, there is a
marvellous range of materials gathered together in
this work and a personal passion in its exploration.

Gillian Beer
University of Cambridge

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Friday, 1 February 2008