Monday, December 12, 2011

How much can these brains hold!

Today each person will speak and offer their own unique sense of spacetime travel  through the argument or story of the course. 

Celebrating each others' work and our own, and especially thinking together today about the knowledge we each bring into being is the collective project here, our SF feminist community. 

So listen as carefully as you speak, because active listening is as necessary to collective thought. If someone else says something you intended to say, then -- thinking on your feet -- find another something to say that is a unique bit of your own work instead. 

Focusing exercises for presenting: 

1) find your favorite paragraph in the paper. Put a star next to it.
2) write down what you are most proud of in this paper.
3) put an arrow next to the place you think best describes the argument of the course.
4) write down your favorite reading and be prepared to say what element of its ANALYSIS made it special for you.

pick out two of these to share. 

Focus on analysis -- of the course, readings, experiences, realizations -- especially, although feelings and politics have important places too.  

Be mindful of the time -- we want to allow time for everyone in the class to speak today -- give some real details: don't be too general. Do show off the hard thinking you are capable of. Make sure what you say is special and unique.

And may we keep running into each other, over and over, in friendship and connection and intellectual community and joyful living!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011


  • Whileaway: Worlding and feminist SF
For Whileaway you will create either a paper or poster (which determined by lot earlier, whichever one you did not do for FemCriticon) in order to explore feminist processes of worlding. You will do some research on the concept of worlding, and choose a bundle of at least five SF texts to explore for their abilities to address feminist concerns through worlding practices.

You should use the web to follow-up or look in greater detail at the kinds of worldings feminisms explore today and ways all of these are promoted in popular and scholarly media. Always make a point of connecting projects to class readings and lectures. 

In college courses ALWAYS use your projects to demonstrate how you uniquely put together, or synthesize, class readings, mini-lectures and discussion. Make a point of displaying that you are doing all the reading and attending all the classes. Doing this clearly and carefully will demonstrate that this is your own work, and ensure your credit for honesty and for real engagement with the course. 

Monday, November 28, 2011



How did this happen and why? 

Well the hopeful email from a student asking if Whileaway dates had been changed set me thinking.

First, I thought maybe I forgot I had changed the dates! But I checked with three students, and I had not. (Whew! I did make some other changes in another class and became a bit confused myself, once the question was raised.)

But while trying to find that out, I considered seriously whether this actually was a good idea or not.

I am still going back and forth on this, put it up on facebook to get ideas from other teachers, and trying to consider how this would work with the final assignment.

BUT I HAVE DECIDED TO GO FOR IT! Let your buddies know and as you see, I am also putting it up here on the class website.

It means several things though: there are consequences for doing this.

1) We will spend this coming week in class talking about what we are doing and why all this matters. Make a point of being there and participating and reflecting. This will matter a lot for the final learning analysis!

2) After Whileaway, there will be only one class left, and you will need to write up your learning analysis immediately after Whileaway and bring it in that very next class.

That final assignment MUST BE TURNED IN ON THAT LAST DAY!! So you have to be on the ball getting it done immediately after the con. If you are now ready for the con, you should be working on it this coming week, and finish it up afterward.

On the last day everyone will present speaking from what they have written in that last learning analysis.

So, you have this coming week to work on Whileaway and do a really great job! And use it as a way of figuring out what has mattered the most to you in this course, which will inform the con, and will also be the heart of the Learning Analysis. So be thinking about that at the same time.

Let's finish up with a lot of spirit then!

Learning Analysis for Sf Feminisms
Tuesday 29 Nov – Spacetime Travels in SF Feminism: Complexity 
• (optional) Weston, Introduction to Gender in Real Time
Starship Gender and wormholes are necessary for feminist theory according to anthropologist Kath Weston, as we rethink women’s liberation, globalization, colonialisms, and more. SF feminisms are not just about SF. They are about feminist theory, activism, and practices in the so-called “real world”! 

Premediation? Grusin, R. A. (2010). Premediation: Affect and mediality after 9/11. Basingstoke; New York: Palgrave Macmillan.


Anticipation work: Adams, V., Murphy, M., & Clarke, A. E. (2009). “Anticipation: Technoscience, life, affect, temporality.” Subjectivity 28, 246–265. 

247: “Crucially, predictable uncertainty leads to anticipation as an affective state, an excited forward looking subjective condition characterized as much by nervous anxiety as a continual refreshing of yearning, of ‘needing to know.’ Anticipation is the palpable effect of the speculative future on the present. The anticipatory excitement of the cliff hanger as a narrative mode is as familiar as terror-inducing apocalyptic visions. As an affective state, anticipation is not just a reaction, but a way of actively orienting oneself temporally. Anticipation is a regime of being in time, in which one inhabits time out of place as the future. Temporality has always had a politic, long capitalized and colonized in the name of the ‘present’ of particular locations, situations and actors. Within this longer history, anticipation now names a particular self-evident ‘futurism’ in which our ‘presents’ are necessarily understood as contingent upon an ever-changing astral future that may or may not be known for certain, but still must be acted on nonetheless.”

The Future is Now.  Kirby, D. (2010). “The Future is Now: Diegetic Prototypes and the Role of Popular Films in Generating Real-world Technological Development.” Social Studies of Science 40(1), 41-70.

“Production designer Alex McDowell and prop master Jerry Moss noticed Underkoffler’s dissertation work on interactive technologies during a pre-production tour of MIT’s Media Lab where he had just completed a PhD. They were impressed enough with his work and his knowledge ofmovies to hire him as the primary science consultant on Minority Report a few months later. Although Underkoffler was responsible for helping design all of the technologies in Minority Report, his chief concern was the gesture-based computer-interface technology that protagonist John Anderton uses to manipulate computer data with his hands (see Fig. 2). Minority Report was a golden opportunity for John Underkoffler to demonstrate to the public, and potential funders, that not only would his gestural interface technology work, but also that the technology would appear as if it were ‘natural’ and intuitive for users. The important factor was that Underkoffler conscientiously treated this cinematic representation as an actual prototype, ‘We worked so hard to make the gestural interface in the film real. I really did approach the project as if it were an R&D [research and development] thing.’”

“These approaches led to the funds he needed to start the company Oblong Industries and to turn his diegetic prototype into a physical prototype. This real world prototype in turn led to a development contract with defence giant Raytheon to produce gestural interface technology for the US military.7 From Underkoffler’s perspective, his work as science consultant on Minority Report was not simply a minor component in this story; his well-worked out diegetic prototype was the crucial element in the development process.” (Kirby 2010: 50 & 53)



Weston, K. (2002). Gender in Real Time: Power and Transience in a Visual Age. New York: Routledge. 

"There can be no time claim without a time frame: history, infinity, chronology, generation, era, future/past. Implicit in these claims are modes of temporality (regressing, moving ahead, modern traditions, coming back around) and morality (stolen futures, lost generation, better days). In relativizing fashion, time claims tether me, you, and our brother's keeper to our respective timespots (1990s butch, twenty-first century woman, follower of the old ways, old-fashioned). Time claims can even naturalize or denaturalize the very modes of reckoning embedded within them." (Weston 2002: 122)

Thursday 1 Dec – Learning, Play, Analysis, Cognition, SF: Complexity  
(optional) Johnson, Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software
• Wikipedia on Complexity, EmergenceSelf-Organization


Mary Flanagan - Symposium Playful Post Digital Culture (STRP 2011) from STRP Festival on Vimeo.

The digital revolution is over, the big ‘bit rush’ has passed, now we live in a post-digital era. Whether something is analogue or digital does not matter anymore. Digital and interactive are everywhere. Playing is a serious thing and meanwhile the digital migrates from the virtual reality to the objects around us. Along with MU and TU/e, STRP Festival will discuss the many forms of post digital culture.

Speaker: Mary Flanagan
Mary Flanaganis artist, author, educator and designer. As Professor in Digital Humanities she’s associated with the Dartmouth College in New Hampshire (US). Flanagan is the author of Critical Play: Radical game design



"It's not science to me unless it's wholistic."

"...our culture resists the true values of the scientific way of knowing: we disdain observational patience leading to open-minded description; we discourage eclectic methodologies; and we dismiss attentive care, failing to recognize the imperative, rather than the prerogative, nature of play.” - Lynn Margulis

The Washington Post
Lynn Margulis, leading evolutionary biologist, dies at 73
By Martin Weil, Published: November 26

Lynn Margulis, 73, a rebel within the realm of science, whose determined advocacy of her ideas about how new species arise helped change evolutionary biology, died Nov. 22 at her home in Amherst, Mass.

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where she had been a professor, announced her death. News accounts reported that she suffered a stroke.

Dr. Margulis was best known for demonstrating a theory of biological change, called the endosymbiotic theory, that appears to suggest a degree of cooperation between organisms.

She advanced the idea that, at a cellular level, more complex forms of life could arise from the merger of simpler forms with one another. Each simple form of life supplied some of the ingredients for creation of something new.

In biological terms, Dr. Margulis showed that eukaryotic cells — the more complex organisms — could develop from a blend of less complex cells — prokaryotes, such as bacteria. The process was known as symbiogenesis.

Symbiogenesis was considered a possible solution to one of the perplexities of evolutionary biology: How lower-order cells that lacked a nucleus made the jump to a higher order of cells that possessed a nucleus.

Dr. Margulis’s ideas have been seen as offering an alternative to the prevailing scientific belief that random mutation was the only basis for species variation and evolutionary change.

Her revolutionary 1967 paper setting forth her ideas was turned down by more than a dozen different scientific publications before running in the Journal of Theoretical Biology. She wrote a more detailed version of her endosymbiotic theory in her first book, “Origin of Eukaryotic Cells” (1970), and expanded on it with other publications through the 1980s.

In time, her theory was hailed as a great achievement of evolutionary biology and put Dr. Margulis in the top rank of scientific thinkers. She was elected in 1983 to the National Academy of Sciences and was presented the National Medal of Science in 1999 by President Bill Clinton.

Nevertheless, Dr. Margulis appeared to remain a lightning rod for controversy, and in some areas, she met vigorous challenge.

Some scientists were put off by her embrace of the Gaia hypothesis, suggesting that both the animate and inanimate worlds can be viewed as a single organism. In one interview, published in Discover magazine, she was asked whether she ever tired of being called controversial.

“I don’t consider my ideas controversial,” she replied. “I consider them right.”

Lynn Petra Alexander was born in Chicago on March 5, 1938, and enrolled as a teenager in an early entrance program at the University of Chicago.

In a campus building one day, she met her future husband, Carl Sagan, while she was on her way upstairs and he was headed down. A student of the cosmos, Sagan became an astronomer and won fame as a popularizer of science. The two were married in 1957, the year she received her bachelor’s degree.

She obtained a master’s degree in zoology and genetics from the University of Wisconsin in 1960 and received a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley, where she did research in genetics. By the time she got her doctorate in 1965, the marriage had ended.

After a postdoctoral period at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, Dr. Margulis began teaching in the biology department at Boston University. After 22 years in Boston, she joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1988.

Her second marriage, to scientist Thomas N. Margulis, ended in divorce in the early 1980s.

Survivors include two children from her first marriage, Dorion Sagan and Jeremy Sagan; two children from her second marriage, Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma and Jennifer Margulis di Properzio; three sisters; and nine grandchildren.

Many of those who knew Dr. Margulis viewed her as outspoken, energetic, hard-working and a constant source of ideas. But she did not consider herself a superwoman.

“I quit my job as a wife twice,” she once said about the difficulties of balancing science and domestic life. “It’s not humanly possible to be a good wife, a good mother and a first-class scientist. No one can do it — something has to go.”

© The Washington Post Company

Endosymbiosis: Lynn Margulis 


Monday, November 14, 2011

Women's Worlds: in and about SF

Tuesday 15 Nov – Crossover

• finish up those first chapters of Merrick (you should have read all of it by now then), and make connections with Butler, her life, and her SF
Butler’s work is about violence in every form. How did SF nurture her? How is her violence a kind of nurturing itself? What sorts of SF does she end up nurturing violently? 


the word "history" means:
= past flows of event and everyday life that people have experienced in many times & places
= stories about those events and people, unofficial and official 
= that academic field in which experts learn how to tell stories about the past in careful ways
when we use the word we sometimes slip among these different meanings without noticing

1) women have not been present in history as much as they should have been. In other words they have not been allowed a share in the sorts of social life that the discipline of history describes
2) women have been part of all the important forms of life the discipline history *should* describe, more part of history than official stories say.

it is all too possible to
= never notice history (official stories) is only about men
= only notice how much women are absent (from official stories)
= esp. how absent in *important* parts we care about

Merrick, 39: "Intimately connected to these debates over the suitability of females as a fit subject for or presence in sf were complex reactions to the bodies of the real women reading the magazines, writing letters, and becoming fans. The varied explanations and justifications for women's arrival in the field offers a measure of this complexity, for, as Larbalestier demonstrates, male fans repeatedly made claims of an 'invasion' of women, beginning as early as 1926. Editors such as Hugo Gernsback, Sam Merwin Jr., Charles Hornig, and Sam Mines all at various times expressed surprise that their magazines (in the 1920s, '30s, and '50s) received so many letters from women."

40: "For many women, the association of sf with science was enough to deter them from looking at such stories, or from at least admitting that they did so...."

41: "The cycle of presumed absence followed by surprised discovery occurs again in the 1950's...."

48: "there were innumerable examples of this theme [worlds of women without men] that together form a recognizable tradition, appearing first in the nineteenth century, and then in many pulp stories, through to the 1970s, where exploitation of the theme culminated in its radical reformation at the hands of feminist authors. The 'world of women' -- or what Russ and Larbalestier term 'the battle of the sexes' story -- is in fact one of the primary sites of female activity in sf and is a recurring concern in later critical works...."

80: "It seems that Bradley's confidence was unusual; Karen Anderson has argued that many more female fans existed in the late 1940's than are remembered today, but that they were much less likely than men to become BNFs [Big Name Fans] because they tended not to engage in this form of self-promotion."

What to take away about and from and with science studies in this class:
= complex systems (complexity theory, emergence, self-organization)
= mirage of a gap between nature/nurture and naturecultures in order to question many binaries
= news of science research across many knowledge worlds, as a pleasure akin with SF 
= science sensitive material feminisms & SF feminism are important areas in women's studies
We will continue to explore in a range of contexts and feminisms with and after Whileaway....

Thursday 17 Nov – Women’s Worlds, Whileaways and more….
• bring in SF examples of other “whileaways” or other women’s worlds in SF
What are the intertexualities for women’s worlds in SF, and why do they appear so often? What are contexts for understanding them? We are preparing for our next con….


Haran, 395: "wilful" "struggle that oscillates between hope and its counterpoints -- anxiety or despair"
"critical utopian fiction" "inherent interconnectedness"
"re-reading and cross-reading" = Rich's re-vision(ing)

utopian longing & things should be better
def utopia fr Kim Stanley Robinson's character in Pacific Edge who says: "isn't the perfect end-product of our wishes... process of making a better world... dynamic, tumultuous, agonizing process, with no end. Struggle forever." (Robinson 1995: 81)

396: "It takes for granted that the process of building a better world would be contested." Starhawk's "unending negotiation amongst the different communities"

 intersubjective and interobjective
404: “Benjamin (1998, p. 99) posits that: 'any subject’s primary responsibility to
the other subject is to be her intervening or surviving other' (original emphasis). In other words, just as we seek recognition from another subject, so we can provide that subject with recognition by surviving their destructive wishes and by demonstrating that we are not subjected to their will. As Benjamin (1998, p. xiii) makes clear, the heart of the matter is 'how we use our marvelous capacity for identification with the other to either further or impede our recognition of others, to bridge or obfuscate difference between us. Or rather … how we do both at once'. But, as she goes on to elaborate, in an intersubjective relationship, we go beyond identification to appreciate the other as a being outside the self, a subject in its own right; a concrete other and not the other of fantasy."




Tuesday 29 Nov & Thursday 1 Dec 

  • Whileaway: Worlding and feminist SF
For Whileaway you will create either a paper or poster (which determined by lot earlier, whichever one you did not do for FemCriticon) in order to explore feminist processes of worlding. You will do some research on the concept of worlding, and choose a bundle of at least five SF texts to explore for their abilities to address feminist concerns through worlding practices.

You nay want to use the web to follow-up or look in greater detail at the kinds of worldings feminisms explore today and ways all of these are promoted in popular and scholarly media. Always make a point of connecting projects to class readings and lectures. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Designerly ways of worlding?

Tuesday 1 Nov & Thursday 3 Nov: Worlding Sciences  
  • Katie is at the Society for the Social Studies of Science talking about SF feminisms and theory!
While Katie is away participating in professional SF feminisms, the class will continue to meet without her. Two facilitators (to be decided upon) will oversee the class, which will meet in groups, working on science issues for the course, sharing web research on those and worldings, and finishing up the rest of the collection Dreaming.

"Technology is a substantive and seductive force that permeates nearly every aspect of my being. To what extent is our collective humanity bethinged by technological things thinging (simultaneously dependent upon, inhabited by, immersed in and indifferent to the technology in our everyday lives)? My concern is that we do not USE our technologies inasmuch as we LIVE them. Technology is living inside me and it’s living inside you…." Theory of Learning....  

The Near Future Laboratory
"Extending this idea that science fiction is implicated in the production of things like science fact, I wanted to think about how this happens, so that I could figure out the principles and pragmatics of doing design, making things that create different sorts of near future worlds. So, this is a bit of a think-piece, with examples and some insights that provide a few conclusions about why this is important as well as how it gets done. How do you entangle design, science, fact and fiction in order to create this practice called "design fiction" that, hopefully, provides different, undisciplined ways of envisioning new kinds of environments, artifacts and practices." Projects....  Process....  

Tuesday 8 Nov – Secret Lives and Not So Secret Secrets
• finish up the Tiptree biography and make all the connections you can with worlding practices
What is an “open secret” and what role might such a way of thinking about secrets play in understanding what sort of icon Tiptree becomes to SF feminisms? How many ways and for whom does Tiptree end up mattering? How might Tiptree matter to YOU? 

Alice Bradley Sheldon / James Tiptree, Jr. (August 24, 1915 – May 19, 1987)
Joanna Russ (February 22, 1937 – April 29, 2011)

Octavia Estelle Butler (June 22, 1947 – February 24, 2006)

Thursday 10 Nov – Near of Kin
• Finish the rest of the Butler collection, consider connections with science and worldings
Butler was a profound influence on Haraway's feminist theory, and on the writers of the collection
Dreaming. Why? Check out what else Butler has written and come in with some ideas about further reading. 

Butler, "Positive Obsession," 128: "I hid out in a big pink notebook--one that would hold a whole ream of paper. I made myself a universe in it. There I could be a magic horse, a Martian, a telepath.... There I could be anywhere but here, any time but now, with any people but these."
"[Butler's mother] wasn't sure which books I might be able to use, so she brought whatever she found in the trash.... them when I was ready for them. Some were years too advanced for me when I got them, but I grew into them."
129: "Obsession can be a useful tool if it's positive obsession. Using it is like aiming carefully in archery."
131: "At college...I took classes taught by an elderly woman who wrote children's stories. She was polite about the science fiction and fantasy that I kept handing in, but she finally asked in exasperation, 'Can't you write anything normal?'"
134: "What good is science fiction's thinking about the present, the future, and the past? What good is its tendency to warn or to consider alternative ways of thinking and doing? ...And what good is all this to Black people?"

From bell hooks and Cornel West, 1991. Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life. South End Press.

hooks, "Black Women Intellectuals," 148: "Living in a society that is fundamentally anti-intellectual, it is difficult for committed intellectuals concerned with radical social change to affirm in an on-going way that the work we do has meaningful impact. Within progressive circles, the work of intellectuals is rarely acknowledged as a form of activism, indeed more visible expressions of concrete activism (like picketing in the streets or travelling to a Third World country and other acts of challenge and resistance) are considered more important to revolutionary struggle than the work of the mind.... Throughout our history as African Americans in the United States, Black intellectuals have emerged from all classes and conditions of life. However, the decision to consciously pursue an intellectual path has always been an exceptional and difficult choice. For many of us it has seemed more like a 'calling' than a vocational choice. We have been moved, pushed, even, in the direction of intellectual work by forces stronger than that of individual will."
149: "During adolescence, I underwent a conversion process that pushed me towards intellectual life.... I became my own 'enlightened witness,' able to analyze the forces that were acting upon me, and through that understanding able to sustain a separate sense of my self. Wounded, at times persecuted and abused, I found the life of the mind a refuge, a sanctuary where I could experience a sense of agency and thereby construct my own subject identity."

naturecultures and Haraway:
 "I want the readers to find an “elsewhere” from which to envision a different and less hostile order of relationships among people, animals, technologies, and land … I also want to set new terms for the traffic between what we have come to know historically as nature and culture." (Haraway, Primate Visions 1989: 15)

Evelyn Fox Keller's book among the other books of legendary scientists
She won the Bernal Prize at this year's 4S, and spoke to the conference via Skype.



Monday, October 24, 2011

Worlding Begins....


Sowing Worlds:  a Seed Bag for Terraforming with Earth Others
by Donna Haraway, Spring 2010

“Do you realize, the phytolinguist will say to the aesthetic critic, “that they couldn’t even read Eggplant?”  And they will smile at our ignorance, as they pick up their rucksacks and hike on up to read the newly deciphered lyrics of the lichen on the north face of Pike’s Peak.”
Ursula K. LeGuin, “The Author of the Acacia Seeds,” ©1974


Tuesday 25 Oct – "SF: Science Fiction, Speculative Fabulation, String Figures, So Far"
• Merrick, chap 7 on feminisms and science 
• find out everything you can on the Web about Donna Haraway. Bring stuff in to share.
• Haraway, Pilgrim Award, watch online and read too: url: 
Why is Haraway getting this award? What does that mean about SF feminisms? Who is she anyway and why does she matter?

Thursday 27 Oct – No More Nature VERSUS Nurture: Why?

• Haraway, “Sowing Worlds.” To be emailed to you in manuscript. EMAIL KATIE IF YOU HAVEN'T RECEIVED IT BY MONDAY!
• Find out everything you can about the nature/nurture debates on the Web. Can you find anything that shows what might be wrong with pitting them against each other? Bring that in to share.
Over and over one hears the opposition nature vs. nurture in popular press, media, even in school. What’s wrong with it? Why would feminists care?

• your favorite passages on worlding from Haraway's "Sowing Worlds" and the Pilgrim lecture.
• what did you find out about nature vs. nurture on the web?
• what science issues might you bring to bear on your worlding project for Whileaway? groups.

biological determinism from the Wikipedia:

"In terms of the nature versus nurture debate, biological determinism is approximately analogous to the "nature" argument, and social determinism is similar to the "nurture" view-point. However, the tendency to see biological determinism and social determinism as polar opposites is rather misleading. Indeed, the two theories are similar in that they postulate that behaviour is, at least to some extent, pre-determined. In this sense the opposite of the biological and social determinism theories, could be said to be that of randomness i.e. the theory that there are no factors which influence behaviour (c.f. free will). The key difference between the theories of biological and social determinism lies in their appraisal of the extent to which a variety of factors may influence behaviour."

Nature vs. Nurture from the Wikipedia:

"When traits are determined by a complex interaction of genotype and environment it is possible to measure the heritability of a trait within a population. However, many non-scientists who encounter a report of a trait having a certain percentage heritability imagine non-interactional, additive contributions of genes and environment to the trait. As an analogy, some laypeople may think of the degree of a trait being made up of two "buckets," genes and environment, each able to hold a certain capacity of the trait. But even for intermediate heritabilities, a trait is always shaped by both genetic dispositions and the environments in which people develop, merely with greater and lesser plasticities associated with these heritability measures."

Epigenetics from the Wikipedia:

"The molecular basis of epigenetics is complex. It involves modifications of the activation of certain genes, but not the basic structure of DNA. Additionally, the chromatin proteins associated with DNA may be activated or silenced. This accounts for why the differentiated cells in a multi-cellular organism express only the genes that are necessary for their own activity. Epigenetic changes are preserved when cells divide. Most epigenetic changes only occur within the course of one individual organism's lifetime, but, if a mutation in the DNA has been caused in sperm or egg cell that results in fertilization, then some epigenetic changes are inherited from one generation to the next.[10] This raises the question of whether or not epigenetic changes in an organism can alter the basic structure of its DNA (see Evolution, below), a form of Lamarckism.

"Specific epigenetic processes include paramutation, bookmarking, imprinting, gene silencing, X chromosome inactivation, position effect, reprogramming, transvection, maternal effects, the progress of carcinogenesis, many effects of teratogens, regulation of histone modifications and heterochromatin, and technical limitations affecting parthenogenesis and cloning."

uncoiling chromatin, epigenetic mechanisms, high school activity handout   

naturecultures and Haraway:
"I want the readers to find an “elsewhere” from which to envision a different and less hostile order of relationships among people, animals, technologies, and land … I also want to set new terms for the traffic between what we have come to know historically as nature and culture. (Haraway, Primate Visions 1989: 15)"

and other's feminist science studies

Schiebinger's Nature's body (Rutgers 2004)
"Eighteenth-century natural historians created a peculiar, and peculiarly durable, vision of nature - one that embodied the sexual and racial tensions of that era. When plants were found to reproduce sexually, eighteenth-century botanists ascribed to them passionate relations, polyandrous marriages, and suicidal incest, and accounts of steamy plant sex began to infiltrate the botanical literature of the day. Naturalists also turned their attention to the great apes just becoming known to eighteenth-century Europeans, clothing the females in silk vestments and training them to sip tea with the modest demeanor of English matrons, while imagining the males of the species fully capable of ravishing women."

Goodman, Heath, Lindee, Genetic nature/culture: anthropology and science beyond the two-culture divide (California 2003) 

"The result is an entree to the complicated nexus of questions prompted by the power and importance of genetics and genetic thinking, and the dynamic connections linking culture, biology, nature, and technoscience. The volume offers critical perspectives on science and culture, with contributions that span disciplinary divisions and arguments grounded in both biological perspectives and cultural analysis. An invaluable resource and a provocative introduction to new research and thinking on the uses and study of genetics, Genetic Nature/Culture is a model of fruitful dialogue, presenting the quandaries faced by scholars on both sides of the two-cultures debate." 


Tuesday 1 Nov & Thursday 3 Nov: Worlding Sciences  
  • Katie is at the Society for the Social Studies of Science talking about SF feminisms and theory!
While Katie is away participating in professional SF feminisms, the class will continue to meet without her. Two facilitators (to be decided upon) will oversee the class, which will meet in groups, working on science issues for the course, sharing web research on those and worldings, and finishing up the rest of the collection Dreaming

Katie's talksite online here: you can see it under construction:  

Description of conference:
Panel • Tracing Technoscientific Imaginaries through Contemporary Culture
Session Participants:
• Joan Haran (Cardiff University) Half Life: Re-Imagining Our Past-Presents
• Maureen McNeil (Lancaster University) Writing Lives in and through Genomics
• Sherryl Vint (Brock University) Biopolitics and Body Markets: Daybreakers and Repo Men
• Marina Levina (University of Memphis) “And Man Made Life”: Synthetic Organisms and Monstrous Imaginaries
• Katie King (University of Maryland, College Park) Queer Transdisciplinarities


Monday, October 17, 2011

Generic Man & Wo-Man: essentialisms

Tuesday 18 Oct – What is a Female Man?
• Read all of Russ, The Female Man
• We will reflect on FemCritiCon with an eye to The Female Man's connection to our projects
• Filling out evaluation sheets for FemCritiCon
We come to Russ’ book with a sense already of its stature in SF feminisms. What does the book say that is surprising? What is difficult about this book now? What do you imagine was difficult about this book in the mid seventies? What is the important thing about this book as you see it?

Thursday 20 Oct – The Female Man, continued….

• Read everything about this book you can find on the Web. Bring stuff in to share.
• We will create class groups for Whileaway worldings with attention to intertextual bundles
Why is this book such a icon for SF feminisms? Why should we care about it? What other books does it open doors to? How do you know? 


Generic Masculine
Gender Neutral Language 
Quaker use of Female Man  
Essentialism & Non-essentialism 

How do you apprehend something as wrong? How do you work it out and understand it? How do you think about it? How do you share your concern with others? How do you talk about it and act?

utopia  -- the "good place"
dystopia  -- the "bad place"

prescriptive visions  
on not being "innocent" -- otherings: projection othering, honoring otherness

Where does Whileaway figure in all this? 

from the Wikipedia:

"Feminist Utopias 

"Another important subgenre is feminist utopias and the overlapping category of feminist science fiction. Writer Sally Miller Gearhart calls this sort of fiction political: it contrasts the present world with an idealized society, criticizes contemporary values and conditions, sees men or masculine systems as the major cause of social and political problems (e.g. war), and presents women as equal to or superior to men, having ownership over their reproductive functions.[citation needed] A common solution to gender oppression or social ills in feminist utopian fiction is to remove men, either showing isolated all-female societies as in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland, or societies where men have died out or been replaced, as in Joanna Russ's A Few Things I Know About Whileaway, where "the poisonous binary gender" has died off. Marge Piercy's novel Woman on the Edge of Time keeps human biology, but removes pregnancy and childbirth from the gender equation by resorting to artificial wombs, while allowing both women and men the nurturing experience of breastfeeding.

"Utopias have explored the ramification of gender being either a societal construct or a hard-wired imperative.[2] In Mary Gentle's Golden Witchbreed, gender is not chosen until maturity, and gender has no bearing on social roles. In contrast, Doris Lessing's The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five (1980) suggests that men's and women's values are inherent to the sexes and cannot be changed, making a compromise between them essential. In My Own Utopia (1961) by Elizabeth Mann Borghese, gender exists but is dependent upon age rather than sex — genderless children mature into women, some of whom eventually become men.[2]

"Utopic single-gender worlds or single-sex societies have long been one of the primary ways to explore implications of gender and gender-differences.[3] In speculative fiction, female-only worlds have been imagined to come about by the action of disease that wipes out men, along with the development of technological or mystical method that allow female parthenogenic reproduction. The resulting society is often shown to be utopian by feminist writers. Many influential feminist utopias of this sort were written in the 1970s;[3][4][5] the most often studied examples include Joanna Russ's The Female Man, Suzy McKee Charnas's Walk to the End of the World and Motherlines, and Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time.[5] Utopias imagined by male authors have generally included equality between sexes, rather than separation.[6] Such worlds have been portrayed most often by lesbian or feminist authors; their use of female-only worlds allows the exploration of female independence and freedom from patriarchy. The societies may not necessarily be lesbian, or sexual at all — Herland (1915) by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a famous early example of a sexless society.[4] Charlene Ball writes in Women's Studies Encyclopedia that use of speculative fiction to explore gender roles has been more common in the United States than in Europe and elsewhere.[2]"