Women in the Wastelands: the World-Making of Feminist Critical Dystopian Fiction
Associate Professor of Literature in English
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Term: Academic Year
This project explores the recent explosion of transnational, feminist dystopian novels and the ways in which they “re-make” or “re-see” real-world issues such as bioethics and reproduction, caretaking and motherhood, and citizenship. By placing familiar social issues in extreme, unfamiliar possible worlds, the books not only illustrate the depth of their impact, but also imagine potential solutions to these issues. Further, readers see that the “dystopian” elements are not the improbable or fantastical, but the very real horrors of our own world, played out on the page. Environmental disaster (floods, droughts, earthquakes), political dystopias (religious and/or political extremists that restrict or highly regulate the citizens within their gates), and global epidemics powerful enough to decimate populations are some examples of the dystopic settings in these novels; readers see their fears come to life in their most extreme forms. The project also maps out contemporary crises related to reproductive choice and access and racial justice that are explored in the novels investigated by this project. The imaginative solutions crafted by writers are the beating heart of contemporary feminist dystopian fiction, as well as the root of this project. Ultimately, although the Wasteland may seem like a strange place to locate hope, this project finds that, at the heart of feminist dystopian novels is the utopian desire to speculate new potentialities.
Eir-Anne Edgar (she/her) is an Appalachian in Norway. Her current book project explores the recent explosion of transnational, feminist dystopian novels. She has written about a range of topics that include: Queer Eye, senior citizens and nonmonogamy, midcentury American hustlers, the Sexual Revolution, and using literature to promote empathy in readers. Her research focuses on issues of representation, identity, and American literature and culture as well as global citizenship education and literature pedagogy.