A Bleak Outlook: Are contemporary Feminist (Dys)topias Failing Us?

“Two years ago, the United States Congress ratified the Personhood Amendment […] Abortion is now illegal in all fifty states.” (Zumas 2018) This presentation examines a paradigm shift in Feminist Utopian Writing Tradition: the emergence of the Paratopia. introduced by author Leni Zumas, “Paratopia” refers to a form of dystopian writing which builds upon realistic scenarios, contemporary events, political trends, and, or social constructs to create narratives on the basis that they could happen in an imminent future and in some effects are happening or already happened. With reference to the Atwood Principle and Tom Moylan’s concept of the Critical Dystopia, I will question the use of (hyper)realism in contemporary feminist dystopias by examining feminist dystopian novels published in the years leading up to the Overturning of Roe v. Wade, namely Red Clocks (2018) by Leni Zumas, and VOX (2018) by Christina Dalcher, and interrogate the paradox of realistic speculative/dystopian feminist fiction. I argue, however, that this paradox can be detrimental to the socio-political relevance feminist dystopian writing is inherently affiliated with, particularly in the current political climate.

Hylda Djermoune , She/Her, PhD Student, School of English, Irish and Communication, University of Limerick

6 thoughts on “A Bleak Outlook: Are contemporary Feminist (Dys)topias Failing Us?”

  1. Hey Hylda, thank you so much for your enlightening presentation! It was very interesting to learn about the role of feminist paratopian fiction in our political and social environment! One question I have for you is what do you feel hopeful about right now, and does this come from your reading of many feminist paratopian fiction novels?

  2. Very interesting research! Thank you for sharing your knowledge, your definitions of key terms and concepts helped me learn so many new things.

  3. Hi Martino!
    Thank you so much for taking the time to watch my presentation, I am glad it was beneficial to you!
    that’s a very good question, the point of my presentation was to highlight not only the trend of the paratopia but the disconnect between the paratopia and the general audience. the novels themselves strive to encourage more activism and project hope into the reader, however the media has focused more on the surface dystopian elements because fear sells.
    I think while in terms of reproductive rights we have turned the clock quite substantially, it is still commendable to see the younger generation not only show interest but already active in the fight for reproductive justice, climate change and education, which over the long term will hopefully reverse these policies. it is still a big ask but I can see it happen! so it is imperative for us to encourage that hope.

  4. Hi Linnea!

    Thank you so much for your response, I am very glad to hear that! if you have any follow up questions please feel free to contact me.

  5. This was a fantastic presentation! I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing and even have added some new books to my To Be Read list.

  6. This presentation was so thought out! I kept coming back to this and was mainly drawn in because of the viewpoint and literature given to us by Atwood. Thank you!

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