Detailed Table of Contents

gender forum started out almost 20 years ago. Since then, it has turned into a vibrant medium of excellent research and expanded its scope in innovative ways. At its launch in 2002 gender forum was the first English-language academic e-journal in gender studies in Germany.  Founded and based at the University of Cologne our peer-reviewed open-access journal has been dedicated to the international and interdisciplinary discussion of gender issues, with a strong focus on literature/media and cultural studies in the anglophone world, and on theoretical perspectives in the field. Throughout our mission always aimed at widening the scope to explore transdisciplinary intersections highlighting gender issues in a wide range of areas from politics to social and religious institutions, from criminal justice to health care systems. 

By 2021 gender forum has published 80 quarterly issues, including various special editions in response to urgent topical matters.  A substantial number of issues has been guest-edited by international colleagues from different disciplines within the humanities, social sciences, and performance studies. I would like to thank all those dedicated colleagues who put their time and expertise into these issues, contributing to the continued success of the journal which registers 5000 monthly readers on average. 

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Abstract: Australian Speculative Fiction thus far remains an underappreciated and therefore notoriously undertheorised field of cultural output. Yet its very diversity and range means that it holds great productive potential for literary scholars from a number of different theoretical orientations. Postcolonial, ecocritical, inter- and transcultural approaches to Australian Speculative Fiction offer conducive avenues for critical exploration. Scholars concerned with migration, diaspora, Asian Anglophone literature, and Indigenous Australian writing will find ample material to analyse within the broad field of Australian Speculative Fiction, consisting of such genres as fantasy, science fiction, gothic, horror, magic realism, dystopian writing and many others. Often overlooked, these genres might offer unique insights into the dynamics, constructions and representations of often marginalised gender and sexual identities—perhaps all the more so, because these genres are, by definition, open to experimentation and subversion, and lend themselves to challenging heteronormative structures. It is because of Australian Speculative Fiction’s aptness for tackling these complex issues that we chose to focus on gender and queer identities within that field for this special issue of gender forum, especially since Australian Speculative Fiction seems to be particularly interested in exploring queerness, femininity, and other gender- and sexuality-related concepts. 

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Author’s Bio: Bettina Charlotte Burger is a research assistant, lecturer, and doctoral candidate at the Heinrich-Heine University of Dusseldorf. Their dissertation argues that fantasy literature ought to be considered as world literature in its scope and that world literary readings of individual examples of world fantasy are highly productive as well as necessary. They have co-edited a collection on Nonhuman Agencies in The Twenty-First-Century Anglophone novel as well as several articles in the field of speculative fiction.  Additionally, they are a Digi Fellow and project co-leader for “Charting the Australian Fantastic”, for which they produce Open Educational Resources.

David Kern is a lecturer and PhD candidate at the University of Cologne’s English Department, where he teaches courses on Indigenous Australian and Canadian writing, post-colonial theory and the intersections of literature, art, and activism. His doctoral project explores forms- and representations of resistance to the coloniality of resource extraction in Indigenous Australian and Canadian fiction, comics, graphic novels, and picturebooks. Together with Katrin Althans and Beate Neumeier, he has edited the collection Migrant Australia—From Botany Bay to Manus Island (2022, WVT Trier).

Lucas Mattila is a research assistant, lecturer, and doctoral candidate at the Heinrich-Heine University of Dusseldorf. His dissertation deals with Stimmung in Contemporary Anglophone Literature, which explores affective presences. Additionally, he is a Digi Fellow and project co-leader for “Charting the Australian Fantastic”. His work has been published in ZAA (Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik) and Journal of Science Fiction (forthcoming).

Abstract: The Anthropocene looms large in the 21st century, and queer and disabled people continue to be exposed to harassment and discrimination. What do these issues have in common, though? In Ambelin Kwaymullina’s speculative fiction novel The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf (2012), queer discourse collaborates with, promotes, and diversifies a non-anthropocentric world order, simultaneously implicating a dis-/ability dialectic. This article brings together queer, disability, interspecies studies and literary analysis to explore how Kwaymullina’s young adult novel creates links between queerness and interspecies relations and how disability comes into play. The rhetoric used against children with so-called special abilities in the novel, who come to occupy the structural position of the queer in Kwaymullina’s narrative at the expense of those living with disabilities, as well as the role interspecies conviviality plays for future community construction are focal points of the article. For the latter part, in particular, this article draws on Aboriginal knowledge systems to explore how The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf weaves these marginalised epistemologies into literature and thus changes the field of speculative fiction.

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Author’s Bio: Christina Slopek is a doctoral student at Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, where she also works as lecturer and research assistant in the department of Anglophone Literatures and Literary Translation. Her doctoral thesis explores negotiations of psychology in contemporary Anglo-African fiction. Beyond that, Christina Slopek is particularly interested in postcolonial, queer and gender studies – an article on queer masculinities has been published by Anglia and several chapters in edited volumes are under review.

Abstract: This essay analyzes queer representations in the context of Indigenous Australian discourses by looking at the two-season Australian science fiction series Cleverman (2016-2017). Cleverman aims to combine the conventions of the science fiction and superhero genres with ancient Indigenous stories. Cleverman’s compelling introduction of the Hairypeople, an alternative humanoid species with extraordinary strength inspired by Aboriginal mythology, provides the context to explore queer identities in regards to otherness, marginality, and culturally constructed boundaries between the ‘normal’ and the ‘abnormal’. Through the series’ engagement with the subjectivity and queering of the monstrous ‘other’, the binary construct of good versus evil is challenged. The series’ representation of boundary creatures highlights the constraints within which racially marked bodies operate, however misses the potential to equally engage with gendered bodies. While the series invites ambivalent readings of the role of community belonging and the nuclear family, the representation of female agency fails to similarly redefine discursively constituted identities and shows less potential to re-write normative codes of sex and sexuality.

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Author’s Bio: Victoria Herche is a post-doctoral researcher and lecturer in the English Department at the University of Cologne. She is assistant editor of Anglistik: International Journal of English Studies and the Public Relations Coordinator at the Centre for Australian Studies (CAS) in Cologne. Her first monograph is titled The Adolescent Nation: Re-Imagining Youth and Coming of age in Contemporary Australian Film (Universitätsverlag Winter) and was published in 2021. Her research interests include Australian Literature and Film, Indigenous Studies, Post-Colonial Theory, Migration and Refugee Studies, Popular Culture and Psychoanalytic Theory.

Abstract: This article argues that Australian author Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight trilogy contests, deconstructs, and subverts gendered restrictions and stereotypes often found in fantasy literature. Protagonist Mia Corvere overcomes both tropes of toxic masculinity and a single-minded focus on revenge by facing her fears, emotions, and embracing her queerness. As this article shows, the heroine’s gender performance moves beyond binary constructions and challenges narrative conventions as well as reader assumptions. 

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Author’s Bio: Marthe-Siobhán Hecke studied Philosophy, German Literature, Educational Sciences, English Studies, and Celtic Studies and received a Master of Arts, a Master of Education, and an additional Bachelor of Arts from Bonn University. She is a doctoral research associate at the Department of English, American and Celtic Studies at Bonn and her PhD project is dealing with National Identity and Scotland: “(Re-)Writing and (Re-)Constructing Scottish Identities: the Literary Heritage of Nan Shepherd” (working title). She has taught classes on Speculative Fiction, Gothic novels, Fairy Tales, Queer Theory, Shakespeare, the (former) Celtic Nations, and Young Adult Literature. She also founded a Speculative Fiction Reading Group (BSFG) and initiated a bi-annual creative writing competition at her department.

Abstract:

This article investigates notions of femininity in light of contemporary debates around anthropogenic climate change in literature. Climate change fiction (cli-fi) specifically considers life in the Anthropocene and the consequence of changing climatological realities for human and nonhuman actors in ecosystems. Seemingly straight-forward dichotomies between human and nonhuman, wild and domesticated, useful and harmful subjectivities are being contested, and literary texts increasingly pick up on and reflect the instabilities of previously undisputed dualisms. Mireille Juchau’s novel The World Without Us (2015) explores the intertwined relationships between climate, the animal world, and human subjectivity as it slowly uncovers the multifaceted narration around the Müller family’s grief at the loss of their child. As the family’s life is repeatedly underscored with symbolism of bees, the narration draws parallels between human life and the lives of bees. The text’s elaborate play with multiperspectivity is reminiscent of insect eyes’ compound nature and undulates between fragmentation and complexity. This article explores how Juchau’s novel offers new ways of exploring femininity within notions of grief and suffering on the one hand and the effects of anthropogenic climate change on the other.

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Author’s Bio: Judith Rahn is a lecturer at the Department of English and American Studies at Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf. She is currently finishing her book Exploring Posthuman Life in Contemporary Fiction and is co-editor of the volume Nonhuman Agencies in the Twenty-First Century Anglophone Novel (Palgrave Macmillan 2021, with Bettina Burger and Yvonne Liebermann) and the special issue Afrofuturism’s Transcultural Trajectories (Critical Studies in Media Communication 37.4, 2020, with Eva U. Pirker). She is author of “(Re-)Negotiating Black Posthumanism—The Precarity of Race in Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon” (Anglistik: International Journal of English Studies 30.2, 2019) and has published on the cultural significance of monstrosity in 19th century literature. Her research interests include posthumanism, affect and new materialist theory, Afrofuturism, Black British fictions, and postcolonial literatures.

Abstract: 

In this essay, I am analysing James Bradley’s 2020 novel Ghost Species for its generic make-up and the ways in which this interacts with questions of gender. As I will argue, Ghost Species is a multi-genre mix of science fiction, climate fiction, domestic novel, and coming-of-age story and thus combines realist with speculative fiction. It defies classic genre conventions because of its female focalizers and their representation within the scientific community and society more generally. As a result, a newclear family is constructed, with the NeaHuman and her coming of age in the centre. By bringing together the different genres and their gendered presumptions, Ghost Species challenges traditional ideas of mothers as caretakers as well as of the coming of age as a female.

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Author’s Bio: Katrin Althans is a DFG-funded research fellow at the Postcolonial Studies Section of the Department of Anglophone Studies, University of Duisburg-Essen. For her post-doc project, she is working on ‘Narratives of Flight and Migration in Law and Literature’ and analysing the ways in which literary representations of refugees comment on the inherent narrativity of the law.  Katrin holds a degree in English, German, and Media Studies from the University of Münster as well as a German law degree and her main research areas include Law & Literature, Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, and Australian and Indigenous Studies as well as Gender and Gothic Studies.

Abstract: n/a.

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Author’s Bio: Julia Hahn-Klose is a graduate student in North American Studies at the University of Cologne, where she currently works as a student research assistant at the American Studies Department of the English Seminar. She also takes part in the Research Master program of the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities. She holds a BA in Geography and Media Culture Studies and continues her focus on the environmental humanities in her MA. Her research interests include human-nature-relations, post-colonialism and gender studies. In relation to this, she coordinates participatory exhibitions at Cologne’s Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum dealing with resistance to colonialism and the restitution of art looted by colonizers. Julia Hahn-Klose is also a freelance journalist.