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Pippi to Ripley quasi-live-blogging: "Giving Birth, Giving Life"
As usual, hanging out with my netbook and taking notes to the extent I understand things. I don't guarantee full reporting or full comprehension, I'm tired and some portion of my brain is hamster-wheeling over my talk. So I'm just going to post things as we go.

Full program.



Session 1: "Giving Birth, Giving Life"

Paper 1: Daniel Lukes, Neomedievalist Feminist Dystopia (The Handmaid's Tale)

--also about Doris Lessing, The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five

Neomedievalism: introduced in international relations in 1970s, theory that nation-states might disappear and be replaced by secular version of medieval structures

thinking about beyond nation-states: EU, rhetoric regarding Islam re: "War on Terror", online games like World of Warcraft

Umberto Eco, 1983 essay, Dreaming of the Middle Ages--brings into multi-disciplinary; sees as birth of "all our problems"; capitalism, romantic love, lots else, different ways we conceptualize Middle Ages

different things: science fiction w/medieval elements and fantasy in quasi-medievaloid settings, boundary may be permeable but useful [me: because?]

[I am apparently incapable of spelling medieval, apologies if I miss any mistakes. Also apocalypse and related words.]

post-apocalyptic SF generally neomedieval to some degree, tend to be patriarchial, homosocial

Hoban, _Riddley Walker_
McCarthy, _The Road_
_A Canticle for Lebowitz_

feminist dystopia: critique of dystopian genre, though sometimes unthinkingly reproduces patriarchial logic

Orwell [_1984_, didn't actually say?] -- critique argues that male privilege & centrality invisible and unquestioned, so that he attributes pursuit of power to universal impulse [le sigh, are we saying that women don't pursue power?]

Katharine Burdekin, _Swastika Night_, 1937, women dehumanized & de-eroticized, critique of women's roles

idea of Middle Ages = utmost bondage for women, cultural cliche that is focus of much scholarship to explore & challenge (looking for agency within constrained social conditions, etc.)

re: topic of talk, two novels set out contours of debate about lots and lots of gender and sexuality issues

both grow from feminist utopian tradition

Atwood: discuss gender wars in imaginative, but also chronological and cyclical terms

neomed. thinks about Middle Ages that returns: central to the way the book is structured, first-person narrator often looks back to the way things were before, and there's an academic conference that looks back on the historical Middle Ages for extra irony

structurally attempting to be warning

taxonomy of women parallels / drawn from? Middle Ages. Very rigid, little movement between categories.

[This appears to be a fairly dense academic paper, which cannot possibly have been 15 minutes even before the speaker--to his credit--kept breaking away from the prepared text to restate in less formal terms. And because of logistical issues, he ran out of time before getting to the second book. Anyway, I missed a lot of this.]

Paper 2: Erin Gallagher "'We are two-legged wombs, that's all': Reproduction and Eugenics in Young Adult Fiction" (McCafferty's Bumped and Thumped; Carey's Eve series)

before talking about YA crop of reproductive novels, have to mention _Handmaid's Tale_ and Piercy's _Woman on the Edge of Time_: in dialogue with these classics

Piercy: seems more modern and revolutionary than even recent texts, challenging family structures, biological roles (men breastfeeding, babies born in hatcheries, three "mothers" of mixed gender)

Atwood: biology as prison: quote in title

McCafferty's Bumped and Thumped: only under 18 can be pregnant because of plague. (I immediately go to [personal profile] rachelmanija's tags to see if she's read it, because it sounded familiar. Alas, only a sample.) Surrogacy as after-school job, emotional involvement is taboo, competitive, high-prestige -- privileging reproduction as industry over welfare of "worker."

books never address issue of burden placed on young women, no revolution: tech in story allows telepathic texting, are there really no uterine replicators yet? Only movement: illicit relationship using condoms. Ending wish of protagonist is for freedom to choose what _order_ love/reproduction/etc. in, not _whether_ to do it all.

Anna Carey, _Eve_, violent coercion instead of industrialization: not boarding school but forced reproduction to repopulate New America upon "graduating." Goes on run, finds romance plot, gets saved over and over again by Prince Charming type. Hasn't read rest yet, might be revolution

both series: treat as inconvenience, so surprised that Goodreads reviews don't seem to be talking about oppression and institutions (paraphrased)

audience: none of these challenge heteronormativity . . . ? (counter-examples: _Woman @ Edge_; Tepper, _Gate to Women's Country_)

audience: eugenics, neomedieval theories often deal w/Africa--how is race & whiteness constructed in these texts?

_Bumped_ series: set in America where "racial" purity not enforced, contrasted to Europe, Middle East where "forced" to reproduce with "own", minor note; _Women @ Edge_, protag is Latino woman

Lessig: arranged marriage, two nations, political expediency; more about culture than race; romantic love as product of biopolitical coercion, kind of masochistic internaliztaion of constraints

NYC ad campaign re: teenage pregnancy, blatantly racist and sexist: article, uh, yeah, sounds awful



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