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(Re)reading Queerly: Science Fiction, Feminism, and the Defamiliarization of Gender

Veronica Hollinger
Science Fiction Studies
Vol. 26, No. 1, On Science Fiction and Queer Theory (Mar., 1999), pp. 23-40
Published by: SF-TH Inc
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4240749
Page Count: 18
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
(Re)reading Queerly: Science Fiction, Feminism, and the Defamiliarization of Gender
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Abstract

This essay aims to construct strategic intersections between queer theory and feminist theory, in order to suggest how queer theory's attention to issues of gender and sexuality can enrich feminist critical reading. Through detailed readings of C.L. Moore's "No Woman Born," James Tiptree Jr.'s "The Girl Who Was Plugged In," and Joanna Russ's "The Mystery of the Young Gentleman," I make use of some of the powerful insights of queer theory, such as its perspectives on gender performativity, in order to identify some of the complex ways in which sf, especially feminist sf, has ironized and problematized conventional concepts of gender and sexuality almost since its inception. Although science fiction tends to be an overwhelmingly straight imaginative discourse, queer theoretical perspectives, such as those developed by Judith Butler, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Sue-Ellen Case, and Monique Wittig, allow us to broaden our appreciation of the ways in which some sf has challenged the technologies of compulsory heterosexuality. These perspectives also suggest how queering feminist critical reading might help us to think against the grain of a naturalized heteronormativity. I aim to make a case in this essay for the utopian potential of queer as theory, strategy, and imaginative construction; it is my contention that such potential has already been outlined in a broad range of sf narratives by feminist and queer writers.

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