Le Guin, Butler, and Atwood: Speculative Fiction and Social Change

Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, and Margaret Atwood are towering figures in feminist speculative fiction, using the techniques of science fiction to explore issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, and bodily autonomy in works that question the moral framework of the present by imagining different worlds. What would life--and language--be like in a society where all human beings regularly changed gender without medical intervention? How does time travel affect a Black woman differently from a white man? Would Earth benefit from the deliberate extinction of the human race? By asking these questions, among others, Le Guin, Butler, and Atwood invite readers to imagine possible social structures that are different from our own. This seminar will explore key works from these authors and discuss how thinking about “unrealistic” worlds can help us understand the “real world” in which we live.