CFP: I’ve been a woman I-don’t know-how-many-times: A Critical Tribute to the Work of Octavia E. Butler
Essay collection, ed. Patricia Melzer
Over the course of twenty-five years, Octavia E. Butler published thirteen books and is the most widely known African American woman science fiction writer. The impact of her fiction has been significant both in popular and critical terms. Her compelling narratives reach audiences far beyond traditional genre classifications: she has gained dedicated readers outside the science fiction milieu and has achieved cult status across a variety of audiences, including feminist, African American, youth, and science fiction readers alike. Her narratives depict complex societies in which alien species force-breed with humans and humans mutate into alien forms, in which time travel and shapeshifters exist, and in which humans have telepathic abilities. Butler’s science fiction narratives are intriguing because of the complex and at times contradictory reading experiences they offer; they juxtapose affirmation of difference with experiences of colonization and slavery. At the center of her narratives, which Ruth Salvaggio defines as stories of power, are the struggles of strong female characters who negotiate the contradictions created by colonial encounters and chaotic social upheaval. Butler’s writing raises issues of how to resist racism, sexism, and exploitation in ways that elucidate many of the concepts we encounter in feminist thought, as well as in queer imaginations.
While not alone in re-imagining the ways in which race, gender, sexuality and nationality intersect, Butler’s work is set apart from that of most other writers in her challenging and pleasureable engagement of simultaneous discourses. Above all, her work has ignited a significant critical resonance across disciplinary boundaries as few science fiction writers have, in particular in feminist studies of utopian thought, African American literary criticism, postcolonial discourse, and genre literature.
Until her untimely death in 2006, Butler’s stories have inspired and influenced feminist debates, and they continue to impact readers’ lives today. This volume aims to bring together for the first time a comprehensive collection of critical essays on Butler’s writing. The anthology will combine previously published work that was influential in shaping much of feminist and — more recently — queer debates on Butler’s fiction with new scholarship engaging with Butler’s writing. Those approaches may involve readings of any of Butler’s works in terms of e.g. feminist theory, queer theory, science fiction studies, postcolonial theory, lesbian and gay studies, and critical race studies.
E-mail proposals for new articles as attachments to:
Women’s Studies, Temple University
Deadline for proposals (ca. 1000 words): March 30, 2007
Deadline for full manuscripts (ca. 8000 words): June 15, 2007
The editor, Patricia Melzer, is Director of Women’s Studies at Temple University and author of “Alien Constructions: Science Fiction and Feminist Thought” (2006).
Dr. Patricia Melzer
Director, Women’s Studies Program
1114 West Berks Street
816 Anderson Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19122
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