Worlds Apart?

Dualism and Transgression in Contemporary Female Dystopias


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About the Book

Literary critics and scholars have written extensively on the demise of the “utopian spirit” in the modern novel. What has often been overlooked is the emergence of a new hybrid subgenre, particularly in science fiction and fantasy, which incorporates utopian strategies within the dystopian narrative, particularly in the feminist dystopias of the 1980s and 1990s. The author names this new subgenre “transgressive utopian dystopias.”
Suzette Haden Elgin’s Native Tongue trilogy, Suzy McKee Charna’s Holdfast series, and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale are thoroughly analyzed within the context of this this new subgenre of “transgressive utopian dystopias.” Analysis focuses particularly on how these works cover the interrelated categories of gender, race and class, along with their relationship to classic literary dualism and the dystopian narrative. Without completely dissolving the dualistic order, the feminist dystopias studied here contest the notions of unambiguity and authenticity that are generally part of the canon.

About the Author(s)

Dunja M. Mohr is the co-editor of the Erfurt Electronic Studies in English and is a faculty member, research assistant, and lecturer at the University of Erfurt in Germany. She has widely published on utopian and dystopian novels and is a recipient of the Margaret Atwood Society Award. She lives in Munich.

Bibliographic Details

Dunja M. Mohr. Series Editors Donald E. Palumbo and C.W. Sullivan III
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 320
Bibliographic Info: appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2005
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2142-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3199-8
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Introduction      1

Part I. Literary History and Theoretical Background

1. The Classical Vision: Utopia, Dystopia, and Science Fiction      11
2. Demanding the Possible? The Artificiality of Boundaries      49

Part II. Textual Analyses
3. Rewriting the Colonization of Physical and Mental Space: Suzette Haden Elgin’s Native Tongue Trilogy      71
4. Beyond Separate Worlds and War: Suzy McKee Charnas’s Holdfast Series      145
5. The Poetic Discourse of the Split Self: Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale      229

Conclusion      270
Appendix: “First you are human”: An Interview with Suzy McKee Charnas      281
Bibliography      287
Index      305

Book Reviews & Awards

“valuable…significant”—Science Fiction Studies; “well-researched”—Anglistik: International Journal of English Studies; “fascinating and incredibly well-researched…valuable…a solid piece of scholarship”—Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts; “interesting and informative”—Critical Mass.