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The poetry of the fallen: tragic agency, authorship, and narratives of the human in epic + feminist science fiction

Lynn, Rebekah (2013) The poetry of the fallen: tragic agency, authorship, and narratives of the human in epic + feminist science fiction. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This BPhil thesis tells a story about stories—its central themes are origin myths
and feminist reading. The genres I explore are classic epic (I begin with my readings of
Vergil’s Aeneid and Milton’s Paradise Lost) and feminist science fiction (I address
Shelley’s Frankenstein, Woolf’s Orlando, Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time, and
Russ’s The Female Man). This paper traces the emergence of a feminist poetics in the
science fiction texts, characterized by partiality and possibility. I date its beginning to
Shelley’s Frankenstein and see its further articulation in works of contemporary feminist
science fiction. However I will argue that we can read the great classic works, Vergil’s
Roman epic and Milton’s Christian epic, with a sensitivity to partiality and possibility—
and see, if in episodes and irony, this poetics in broad literary historical perspective.
Taking the Aeneid in one view, we read it as a triumphant teleological narrative
of the foundations of imperial Rome culminating in Turnus’s death an act of founding
violence. We can read Paradise Lost in the same way, a triumphant teleological narrative
with Christ as its center and redemption and damnation as the only potential outcomes
offered. This paper is an attempt to recover other possibilities and other readings from
these classics, by focusing on the figures of Dido, Eve, and Satan. From the classics, this
paper moves into performing readings of feminist science fiction. I see Frankenstein as
the beginning of this genre, and read this novel as the beginning and source of an explicit
feminist poetics. Following my reading of Frankenstein, I move into discussing the work
of contemporary feminist science fiction. Here, I analyze the poetics of a genre that is
explicitly feminist in order to understand the feminist work of constructing new
narratives and new words.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Lynn, Rebekahrsl9@pitt.eduRSL9
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairArac, Jonathan
Committee MemberBove, Carol
Committee MemberJohns, J. Adam
Committee MemberWald, Priscilla
Date: 10 June 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 17 April 2013
Approval Date: 10 June 2013
Submission Date: 9 June 2013
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 65
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: University Honors College
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: epic, feminist science fiction, Joanna Russ, Marge Piercy, feminist poetics
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2013 14:45
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2018 05:15


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