21 January 2015

Law and Feminist SciFi Lecture @ Centre for Law and Culture SMU London


St Mary's University, London
Centre for Law and Culture
Public Lecture Series 2014-15: ‘Law and Culture’

Thursday 5 February 2015
6pm, Senior Common Room

Professor Melanie Williams, University of Exeter
‘Law's Impotence, Gender Violence and the Power of Feminist Science Fiction’

Where ‘mainstream’ (that is, essentially masculine) science fiction tends to explore the possibilities of imagined or fantastical futures and scientific possibilities, ‘feminist’ science fiction frequently reflects such projections with an additional twist or motivation—the vision wedded less to extending or radically altering the potential of the here and now and more to escaping it. Feminist science fiction reflects, very strongly, a despair with the state of the world, especially where women are concerned. And such despair arguably seems justified when one considers the global scale of the problems of violence, discrimination and ideological prejudice visited upon that half of the world population that is female.

For this discussion I wish to consider the message of a seminal work of science fiction—‘The Women Men Don’t See’ (1973) by James Tiptree Junior (actually Alice B. Sheldon), and a response to it in the form of ‘What I Didn’t See’ by Karen Joy Fowler and her recent novel We are all Completely Beside Ourselves—all indicating a possible link to theorisations of nature and nurture relevant to feminism through primateology. The connections demonstrate potentially interesting links between notions of the ‘alien’ and tensions in biological and feminist theories, links which have subtle relevance to subliminal beliefs in society and law around the world.

About the Speaker: Melanie Williams is Professor of Literary Jurisprudence and Deputy Head of the Law School at the University of Exeter. She was formerly Professor of Law, University of Swansea 2005-6; Reader in Law, University of Swansea, 2004-5; and Lecturer in Law, University of Aberystwyth, 1995-2003. Her research is interdisciplinary, focusing on the use of language and literary devices in law, as well as the use of literary sources to explore notions of ‘legitimate' narrative.

Registration: The event is free and public without registration, but feel free to contact thomas.giddens@smuc.ac.uk for further details.

Venue: Senior Common Room, St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London TW1 4SX