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"An Introduction to Mary Sue and Her Critical Uses and Abuses"

In May, I will be giving a 15-minute talk based on the following abstract, which is not the most elegant thing I ever wrote but which does get the idea across, I hope.

An Introduction to Mary Sue and Her Critical Uses and Abuses

“Mary Sue” was coined in the 1970s by a Star Trek fanfic writer to criticize fanfic characters who were improbably wonderful authorial self-insertions (e.g., she’s the youngest Captain in the history of Starfleet, she has amethyst eyes, and every character is hopelessly in love with her). Since then the term has become common among other groups of science fiction and fantasy fans, who use it to refer to characters outside of fanfic, and has even spread into the mainstream media. Today, people use the term to mean anything from the original adolescent wish-fulfillment character who warps the entire story around her to any character who seems to resemble a female author. This talk gives a brief overview of Mary Sue’s history and multiple meanings, and then explores the ways in which she is a useful concept and the ways in which she is used to suppress women’s writing.

This is a mostly-academic conference, the first instance of which I blogged about two years ago, and so though it talks by default about "papers," I don't think I need to have a formal paper written, just a presentation. Which is good, because reading prewritten remarks in a useful and interesting way is not a skill I have.

I will probably be running drafts by y'all closer to, but if there's anything you think might be a bit of a less-common take on the topic, feel free.

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