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2016 Tiptree Symposium – Sally Miller Gearhart Lesbian Lecture, Dr. Alexis Lothian (University of Maryland) , “Queer Longings in Straight Futures: Notes Toward a Prehistory for Lesbian Speculation”

Description: The story of lesbian science fiction is generally assumed to begin in the 1970s, as feminist political and literary movements converged with gay liberation. For her forthcoming book Old Futures: The Queer Cultural Politics of Speculative Fiction, Dr. Lothian researched speculative narratives by women, queers, and people of color that are not often included in genre histories of science fiction, from nineteenth-century utopias to twenty-first-century digital media. This talk expands upon arguments made in the book, drawing on her research in early-twentieth-century feminist speculative fiction to examine moments of desire and connection among women. Appearing amid futuristic visions that otherwise reproduce straight and narrow understandings of gender, race, and sexuality, these fleeting nonheteronormative imaginaries complicate our understanding what it has meant, and what it could mean, to speculatively enact the possibility of lesbian worlds.

Bio: Alexis Lothian is Assistant Professor in the Department of Women’s Studies and Core Faculty in the Design Cultures and Creativity Program at University of Maryland College Park. Her scholarship is situated at the intersection of queer studies, speculative fiction, and social justice in digital culture. She is completing a book manuscript titled Old Futures: The Queer Cultural Politics of Speculative Fiction, which will be published by NYU Press, and has published in venues that include Poetics Today, International Journal of Cultural Studies, Cinema Journal, Camera Obscura, Social Text Periscope, Journal of Digital Humanities, Extrapolation, and Ada: a Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology. She is a founding member of the #transformDH digital humanities collective and the editorial team of the open access journal Transformative Works and Cultures, a member of the Tiptree Award motherboard, and co-chairs the academic track at the feminist science fiction convention WisCon.