Speculative Ecofeminist Futures

Hosted by Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Rana Jaleel and Cultural Studies PhD candidate Xan Chacko.

The aim of this reading group is to explore the exciting intersection of speculative science fiction and feminist visions of ecological futures. We will try to understand the applications of an ecofeminist framework, practice, and philosophy, as evidenced in the literary genre of science fiction.

Each of the members of the reading group will contribute suggestions for the group that arise from each of our projects. Some preliminary recommendations include works by China Miéville, H. P. Lovecraft, Paolo Bacigalupi, Octavia Butler, Frank Herbert, Margaret Atwood, Ursula Le Guin, and Joanna Russ.

We will use this opportunity to think generatively about how each of our projects can be enlivened by considering fictional future narratives. Each of our projects engage with science and futurity head-on. We are commited to understanding how non-human entities are understood and made in relation to particular networks of human interactions and meaning-making endeavors. Whether landmines, dogs, microbes, genes, seeds, or cities, the non-human subjects of our respective research projects have lives that are always/already in excess of what our human interlocutors can evince. Science fiction allows us to imagine how these entities could interact with the world beyond the duration and scope of our projects.

Most of us are writing our dissertations and it is particularly exciting to be able to read work that pushes clear past our own perceived limits of what academic writing ‘should’ be. The aim is not to add to our individual workloads but to share works that inspire each of us in our projects and to use the community of readers to broaden our engagement with those texts.

Open to all. For more information, including meeting locations, please contact .

Spring 2018

Meeting 8: April 4, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. The Oddfits by Tiffany Tsao (we will also be on Skype with the author of the book during this meeting)

Further meetings TBD.

Winter 2018

Meeting 5: January 22, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz

Meeting 6: February 26, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Neveryona by Samuel Delany

Meeting 7: March 19, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. film screening: Born in Flames by Lizzie Borden

We followed the same format as our previous meetings for the ones this quarter. We have met twice so far in the Winter Quarter and have decided, instead of taking a break between quarters, to use the March meeting to screen a film that also deals with the themes we've encountered through the year. On average we have eight people attending the meeting but it has been as high as fourteen on some occasion. The more times we meet the easier it is to get to talking about the parts of the books that we found interesting because we can now see the themes that recur in the genre. We are still only touching the surface of the field and are committed to continuing through the year and possibly next year. 

Fall 2017

Meeting 1: September 28, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Meeting 2: October 16, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin

Meeting 3: November 14, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. Datura by Leena Krohn

Meeting 4: December 12, 5:30 - 9:00 p.m. Dawn by Octavia Butler

We met four times in the Fall quarter in a living room. After partaking in beverages and snacks we discussed the book of the month. The books are selected by members of the group by a nomination and voting system. Each meeting was devoted to thinking about the themes, plot, and world making that the authors infuse in their texts. The last few minutes of the meetings were used to decide on the next meeting date and to gather nominations from the participants for the next book selection. We brought to the discussion our own expertise and backgrounds but the common text that we read provided most of the content for our conversations. We argued about how convincing or skilled the author was in weaving the yarn of the story and shared the parts of the books that we liked the most. It has been a rewarding experience to participate in the group because it has provided a collegial atmosphere to explore the field of feminist futures.