Gender and Queer Identities in Australian Speculative Fiction

Guest edited by Bettina Burger, David Kern, Lucas Mattila

The field of Australian Speculative Fiction thus far remains an underappreciated and therefore notoriously undertheorized field of cultural production. Yet its very diversity and range means that it hosts a site of productive potential for literary scholars from a number of different theoretical orientations. Postcolonial, ecocritical, inter- and transcultural approaches to Australian Speculative Fiction offer fruitful 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 genre 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 of often marginalised gender and sexual identities – perhaps all the more so, because these genres are, by definition, open to experimentation and subversion, which lend themselves to challenging heteronormative structures.

This guest-edited issue of Gender Forum aims to account for Australian Speculative Fiction at its intersection with gender and queer studies, which we consider a particularly fruitful approach because gender and sexual identity seem to be frequent concerns of many writers of Australian Speculative Fiction. The prominence of female writers of Australian fantasy, for example, has been noted by scholars and fans alike, but there are a variety of other ways in which Australian Speculative Fiction can be approached through a lens of gender and queer studies.

Themes and possible topics by may include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Gender / Sexuality / Queerness in early Australian Speculative Fiction texts
  • Queer readings of Australian Speculative Fiction
  • Queer characters in Australian Fanatasy literature
  • Issues of Gender, Sexuality and Queerness and the Australian literary market
  • Women in Australian Fantasy Literature
  • Gender roles in Speculative Fiction – Australia vs. worldwide
  • Masculinity / Femininity in Australian Speculative Fiction
  • Intersections between representation of gender / sexuality in East Asian Anglophone (Australian) Speculative Fiction and Australian Speculative Fiction
  • Intersections of racism and gendered forms of discrimination in a postcolonial context
  • Indigenous takes on gender and sexuality
  • New concepts of gender in Australian Speculative Fiction
  • Intersectionality in Australian Speculative Fiction
  • Queer Speculative YA Fiction and short fiction
  • The role of anthologies in promoting queer speculative short fiction in Australia (Kindred OzYA, Kaleidoscope etc.)
  • Australian Speculative Fiction as a unique site for addressing gender and sexuality- based configurations
  • Changes in the depictions of gender / sexuality in the history of genres
  • Challenging heteronormative structures and/or concepts of masculinity in early Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy

We invite proposals of up to 300-350 words for scholarly essays with a strong focus on gender, sexuality and queer identities in relation to one or several of the above topics (suggestions for additional ones are welcome). The deadline for submission of proposals (MLA Style) is June 17, 2021. Proposals should include a short bio note. If a proposal is accepted, manuscripts of 5000-8000 words (MLA Style and numbered paragraphs) will be due July 22, 2021. Please send your submissions to australianprojectnrw[at]gmail.com and gender-forum [at]uni-koeln.de

Publication date: Summer/Fall 2021

Gender, Violence, and the State in Contemporary Speculative Fiction

From its beginnings, speculative fiction across different media and genres has combined imaginaries of social and political organization with issues of gender and violence. Thomas More’s Utopia (1551), for example, imagined an egalitarian society that remained strictly patriarchal and a perfect government that ensured prosperity and peace by fighting preventive wars, administering capital punishment to adulterers, endorsing corporal punishment for unruly women and children, and encouraging (assisted) suicide. Whether we consider literary texts, film, TV series, comics, or other forms of cultural expression, contemporary speculative fiction continues to discuss (state-)violence and the gendered nature of socio-political relations. It shows how certain gender roles, certain kinds of gender expressions, and certain kinds of desires are normalized by the state and its institutions, while others are punished and obscured, whether through direct, structural, or cultural violence. Speculative fiction evokes the successes and failures of familiar as well as unfamiliar political systems together with the various communities and interpersonal relationships that these systems produce. In doing so, it allows us to reflect on the limitations and potentialities of the modern nation-state in the early twenty-first century as well as on the various threats to democracy that characterize our current moment. It also allows us to think critically about how gendered violence is intertwined with different political systems, about the kinds of violence that these systems legitimize and delegitimize, and about the ways in which issues of gender inform these processes of de-/legitimization.

This special issue of Gender Forum seeks contributions that draw from gender studies, queer studies, cultural violence studies, SF studies, and other pertinent fields to analyze representations of gender, violence, and the state in contemporary speculative fiction, which is to say in science fiction, fantasy, utopian and dystopian fiction, weird fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, near-future climate fiction, etc. Possible topics for contributions include, but are not limited to:

  • Representations of (organized) social and political communities within and beyond the nation-state and violence in speculative fiction
  • Representations of non-violent communities/ non-violent forms of governance in SF media
  • Representations of war, terror, genocide, displacement, colonization, and slavery in SF media
  • Representations of marginalization, repression, desocialization, and dehumanization in speculative fiction as well as representations of resistance against such kinds of violence
  • Intersections between gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, age, and dis/ability in speculative fiction concerned with (state-)violence
  • Representations of violent women* and LGBTQI* individuals in speculative fiction
  • The aesthetics and the aesthetization of (gendered) violence in speculative fiction
  • Analyses of the affective, cognitive, intimate, physical, psychological, and epistemological dimensions of (state-)violence in speculative fiction
  • Discussions of cultural narratives used to legitimize (gendered) violence in speculative fiction and critical revisions of such narratives
  • Representations of alternative familial, communal, societal, and political structures and questions of (non-)violence in speculative fiction
  • Posthumanist, feminist, queer, anti-racist, postcolonial, de-colonial, and ecocritical perspectives on representations of (state-)violence in speculative fiction
  • Interrogations of technocratic and ecological violence in speculative fiction across the media

Please note that all submissions must have a strong emphasis on issues of gender. Abstracts of no more than 300 words and a brief biography should be submitted by March 31, 2021 to judith.rauscher[at]uni-koeln.de. The deadline for the completed papers of 5000-8000 words (MLA style, numbered paragraphs) is September 30, 2021.

Publication date: Fall/Winter 2021

Early Career Reseachers IX

In order to encourage the next generation of academics, interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed e-journal gender forum launched its first annual Early Career Researchers Issue in October 2013. Now every year sees a special issue dedicated to presenting the work of emerging researchers.

Contributions for the upcoming sixth Early Career Researchers Issue may consist of new academic writing composed specifically for the occasion or exceptional, previously unpublished term papers. Please note that given the journal’s focus, all submissions must engage with Gender Studies, Feminist Studies, Masculinity Studies, and/or Queer Theory.

Abstracts of 300 words plus a brief biography should be sent to gender-forum[at]uni-koeln.de by March 1st, 2020. The deadline for the completed papers in MLA 8 (4000-6000 words) is June 15th, 2021.

(Publication date: Fall 2021)

Target articles should conform to current MLA Style (8th edition) and should be between 5,000 and 8,000 words in length. Please make sure to number your paragraphs and include a bio-blurb (including your contact information) and an abstract of roughly 300 words. Files should be sent as email attachments in Word format. Please send your manuscripts to gender-forum”AT”uni-koeln.de.

We always welcome reviews on recent releases in Gender Studies! Submitted reviews should conform to current MLA Style (8th edition), have numbered paragraphs, and should be between 750 and 1,000 words in length. Please note that the reviewed releases ought to be no older than 24 months. In most cases, we are able to secure a review copy for contributors.

Publishers are welcome to send us new publications pertaining Gender Studies. Please send review copies, review suggestions, queries or submissions to gender-forum”AT”uni-koeln.de.

Books and audiovisual media currently up for review (other suggestions welcome):

RuPaul, creator. RuPaul’s Drag Race. MTV, 2009-present.

Casselberry, Judity and Elizabeth A. Pritchard, ed. Spirit on the Move. Black Women and Pentecostalism in Africa and Diaspora. Duke UP, 2019.

Strongman, Roberto. Queering Black Atlantic Religions. Transcorporeality in Candomblé, Santería, and Vodou. Duke UP, 2019.

Sulimma, Maria. Gender and Seriality: Practices and Politics of Contemporary US Television. Edinburgh UP, 2021.