call for paper help

Looking for some help here. The conference topic for the next ICFA is “Representing Self and Other: Gender and Sexuality in the Fantastic,” and I’ve been trying to think of a paper that would fit in. (You’re not limited to the topic, but I’d like to give it a shot this year, instead of ignoring it entirely.) Gender and sexuality aren’t my usual stomping grounds, though, so it’s been a little tough. In fact, for a while the only thing I could think up was “Drow: The Black Hole of Otherness,” which is not so much a paper as an exercise in shooting fish in a barrel, and dead fish at that.

But I think I’ve found a way to develop that into a paper, by looking at the original appearance of the drow in a game module, and then their development since then in game materials and fiction — specifically, what work certain writers have done to try and rehabilitate them as something other than a horrible, horrible stereotype of Otherness. (I’ve gotten some indications that there have been some moves in that direction — enough to persuade me that reading a dozen or so new Forgotten Realms novels won’t be a complete waste of time that leaves me with nothing to talk about when I’m done.) So I’m halfway to being able to write an abstract. What I need now are academic references.

Y’see, I really haven’t taken any classes on this topic, and so I barely know where to begin. Who should I read if my focus is on the process of de-Othering a black-skinned, matriarchal, subterranean, racist, slave-owning, rigidly stratified, back-stabbing, religiously twisted and sexually perverted race of chaotic evil people? I think I can talk well enough about why it’s happening, but I need more on the how.

0 Responses to “call for paper help”

  1. akashiver

    Huh. Maybe Stuart Hall on “Black Evil Subterranean Capitalist Matriarchies?”

    Seriously… I don’t know about “de-othering” persal, but there’s a lot of work done on the “Gothic Other” that you might find helpful.

  2. eclectician

    Remind me – are you limited to fantasy? Or can you dabble in SF as well?

    China Mieville’s stuff, throbbing, rigid and veiny though it might be, might be interesting for a look at ideas of otherness, since virtually everyone in it is in some way an other to their society, and the whole premise behind New Crobuzon is to take the familiar megalopolis and make it something else.

  3. bakkhos

    The only writers I can think of don’t necessarily write in connection to the fantastic, but about race, class, gender, and sexuality in general. If this is what you’re looking for, you might want to try reading bell hooks (yep, all lowercase letters.) She writes a lot of great stuff on gender, race, and sexuality, though I think she writes about non-fantastic lit as well. She wrote a great article called “Choosing the Margin as a Space of Radical Openness” and has a lot of other good stuff out there.

    Also, Judith Butler is a great philosopher to check out.

    • Marie Brennan

      Any other specific bell hooks titles I should look for? I’ve heard of her before, but never read anything.

      • bakkhos

        I just e-mailed my advisor/favorite philosophy professor whose life is this kind of work. She knows much more about bell hooks than I do, so hopefully she will point out some specific titles for you to investigate. I also asked if she would recommend some more material for you. I’ll let you know when she gets back to me.

          • bakkhos

            Hey there,

            My philosophy prof got back to me. This is what she had to say:

            “I think bell hooks Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center is the place to start. Judith Butler’s book Gender Trouble would also be good.

            From the description provided from your friend, reference is made to both the “Others” and the “Otherers.” This is obviously in need of some serious sorting out. I would also encourage her to beware of some of the highly inflammatory descriptors (unless she is drawing these out of the literature and is doing an analysis of these particular linguistic signs), if the paper is to be academic.”

            I hope this helps.

  4. prosewitch

    Hm. I second the Butler rec. If this is a paper you’re feeling pretty certain about, we could look for panel-mates on Othering since I’m doing a paper on representations of Roma-like peoples in fantasy novels…

    • Marie Brennan

      Could you be more specific about the Butler? And yes, I think I do want to do this paper, so we could try to get together as a panel.

    • Marie Brennan

      BTW, if you’re looking for more primary sources, I just read a short story in LCRW that has gypsies figuring prominently in it.

  5. kitsune_zen

    I’m always pimping Kristeva’s _Strangers to Ourselves_, which looks at how displaced people perceive their own foreigness, as well as how foreigness is reflected back at them through society (and gets into how we all perceive our own otherness). Could be very interesting for analyzing Drizzt and other drow-as-main-character type things.

    • kitsune_zen

      Heh…actually, I might be interested in doing a similar presentation on the fetishization of Celticness, (especially looking at landscape, gender and identity at kingship sites, since it’ll probably be a chapter in my diss.), if you think such a thing would fit into a panel…of course, Darja might also have a contribution…and I’m still wondering if I could manage an anthropological study of gender in rpg’s.

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