Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Contemporary feminist theory, especially in its more dialectical manifestations, is read in this study as describing a relationship between present and future. In this reading, the work of feminist theory contains a “present;” that is, an articulation of the specific problem or question that it addresses. The work of feminist theory also contains a “future,” either implicit or explicit, and often both. An explicit “future” in feminist theory states a praxis-model or specific call-to-arms that claims political effectuality; claims that its implementation might help to ameliorate, in some way, the status quo of sexual politics. An implicit “future” in feminist theory is a more direct articulation of a praxis-model through its implementation within the work itself. In this case, the theory works as a heuristic device by enacting the critique that it suggests. For example, a work of feminist literary criticism might posit a mode of textual critique that it then implements by reading a given text in the suggested mode. The “future” in such a theoretical work is the implication that the enacted mode of critique is a praxis-model for further implementation. This study examines feminist theoretical work from the 1950s to the present, with an analytical emphasis on the ways in which the present/future dialectic operates in its structures and claims. I team this analysis with readings of feminist SF. Feminist SF speculates on the potential outcomes of women’s struggles with the oppressions of various ideological regimes, such as sexism, classism, and racism. The dialectical tension between present and future is a thematic concern and a structural feature of most feminist SF. I examine feminist SF that engages some of contemporary feminist theory’s presuppositions and positions. This study includes analyses of the theoretical work of Simone de Beauvoir, Juliet Mitchell, Kate Millett, Shulamith Firestone, Katherine Hayles, Nancy Chodorow, Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, Teresa de Lauretis, and many others. This study also includes analyses of the feminist science fictional work of Ursula LeGuin, Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler, Monique Wittig, Angela Carter, James Tiptree (Alice Sheldon), Tananarive Due, Nalo Hopkinson, Rebecca Ore, and Nicola Griffith, among others.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Michelle Masse