Dr. Bridgitte Barclay
Associate Professor, Chair of English, and ASLE Executive Council
Environmental Humanities, Ecomedia, Science Fiction, Science Narratives, Gender Studies, Archival Studies, American Literature, and Writing
Gender and Environment in Science Fiction focuses on the variety of ways that gender and “nature” interact in science fiction films and fictions, exploring questions of different realities and posing new ones. Science fiction asks questions to propose other ways of living; it asks what if, and that question is the basis for alternative narratives of ourselves and the world we are a part of. What if humans could terraform planets? What if we could create human-nonhuman hybrids? What if artificial intelligence gains consciousness? What if we could realize kinship with other species through heightened empathy or traumatic experiences? What if we imagine a world without oil?
In my chapter, "Female Beasties: Camp Resistance in 1950s SF Wom-Animal Creature Features," I argue that camping mid-century sf, specifically here Mesa of Lost Women (1953) and Wasp Woman (1959), with gender and environmental interpretive strategies enables subversive readings. I argue that making fun with the films and highlighting the queer through camp readings functions as political resistance.
References to Star Wars - such as the
Rogue One quote, “Rebellions are built on hope” and images of Leia - are common at women’s marches since early 2017. It’s perhaps no surprise that women who grew up in the 70s and 80s find strength in Star Wars’ female rebel characters in this era of retrograde global politics. New York Times writer Alexandra Alter and others have noted the recent upsurge in global feminist sf with plot lines about resisting systems of gendered oppression. The what if question that drives sf, Star Wars in particular in this essay, enables speculations about current circumstances and enables us to think through resistant connections and trajectories.
"Through the Plexiglass: A History of Museum Dioramas" in The Atlantic Online, Object Lessons Series. Ed. Ian Bogost and Christopher Schaberg, October 14, 2015.
In this article, I explore how American habitat dioramas have shaped, and been shaped by, human-nonhuman relationships, focusing on Carl Akeley's ecomedia work at the Field Museum in particular.
Other Recent Publications
"Making it Graphic" in The Pocket Instructor: Literature. Eds, Diana Fuss and William Gleason (2015)
“‘Perpetually waving to an unseen crowd’: Humor and Material Feminist Discourses in Beauty Queens” in Female Rebellion in Young Adult Dystopian Fiction. Eds, Sara K. Day, Miranda Green-Barteet, and Amy L.Montz (2014)
“Darwinian Feminism and Early Science Fiction.” Review of Patrick B. Sharp’s Darwinian Feminism and Early Science Fiction: Angels, Amazons, and Women in Science Fiction Research Association Review (Spring 2019)
ENG2410: Literature and the Environment
This course examines the relationship between literature and the environment by addressing both stylistic and cultural concerns. In doing so, the course will examine the conventions of three major genres: poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Throughout the course, students will gain experience writing both about and in each of these literary genres in order to gain greater understanding of the relationship between literature and the environment.
IDS1200: Speculative Fiction and Film
This course will explore speculative fiction and film as reflective of scientific and cultural issues. Questions we will address include the following:
How are speculative genres defined and delineated?
What texts blur boundaries?
How do speculative texts reflect scientific and cultural issues in a particular moment and place?
What do our monsters tell us about ourselves?
What hopes are entwined in speculative fiction texts?
What does speculative fiction tell us about what matters to us?
ENG1000: Introduction to Academic Writing
This course introduces students to conventions and skills of college writing and reading. Through reading a variety of texts, students will develop their own skills in writing in response to written arguments. Students will compose several short papers and revise them extensively, in order to practice and internalize the process of thinking, writing, rethinking, and revision that is central to the practice of effective writing. Students will also develop an awareness of themselves as writers, become conscious of their strengths and weaknesses, and develop strategies to improve.
ENG 3370, American Literature 1945-Present: 21st Century Women of Color
Students will study modern and contemporary literature written since World War II. Reading is supplemented and focused by readings in criticism. The approach may be topical rather than chronological and should develop a student’s sense of what literature has been produced more contemporarily. In poetry, this might include topics such as the Beat movement, the Black Mountain poetry movement, language poetry, confessional and dramatic monologue; and in fiction, this might include the novella or the short-short story or techniques, such as magical realism, meta-fiction and minimalism. This section, specifically, will focus on twenty-first century women of color.
“Women and Popular Science: Reframing Delia Akeley and Osa Johnson’s Early 20th Century Ecomedia,” Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts, UC Irvine, November 2019.
“‘Leaving a record of their coming’: The Creature from the Black Lagoon in the Anthropocene,” Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, UC Davis, June 2019.
“‘Rebellions are built on hope’: Women and Star Wars,” University of North Texas, Realizing Resistance, May 2019.
“The Storied Matter of Science Fiction: Making Kin and Cosmovisions in Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God,” Invited Plenary for Hermanns Lecture Series, University of Texas Arlington, November 2018.
“Extinction-haunted Frontiers in Mid-century SF-horror Films,” Ecomedia in the Anthropocene, Nearly Carbon Neutral ASLE-sponsored Symposium, June 2018.
“Camp Resistance: Animal Avatars and Gender Exaggeration in 1950s Creature Features,” Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, Detroit MI, 2017.
“Through the Plexiglass: A History of Museum Dioramas,” Invited Speaker for the Schingoethe Center, Aurora University, March 2017.
Suffragette, Aurora University Arts and Ideas Invited Speaker, November 2016.
“Satire as Resistance in Fourth Wave Material Gender Studies Rhetoric,” Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association, Salt Lake City UT, 2016.
“Bitch Planet: Non-Compliance, Science Fiction, Comics, and Bad Feminism,” American Literature Association, San Francisco CA, 2016.
“Gamera, Our Last Hope: Kaiju and Teaching Environmental Discourses,” Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, Moscow ID, 2015.
“Desires and Daydreams: Recreating the ‘Animal’ in Museum Habitat Dioramas,” Popular Culture Association/ American Culture Association Conference, Chicago IL, 2014.
“Circus or Science?: Eden, Evolution, and Akeley’s Influence in Two Early SF Films,” Association for the Study of Literature and Environment Conference, Lawrence KS, 2013.
“‘Always as a movement forward’: Feminist Science in The Green Kingdom (1957),” WisCon, Madison WI, 2013.
“Formaldehyde Fish and Drivable Ducks: SF Form and Environmental Themes in a Global
Speculative Fiction Course.” Eaton and Science Fiction Research Association Conference, Riverside CA, 2013.
“Disemboweled Suburbs: Teaching Zombie Fiction as Gothic Literature.” American Literature Association Annual Conference, San Francisco, 2012.
Current and Forthcoming Projects
Please see site sections on Publications and Courses for more details on those.
"'All of this is terminal': Devolution in Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God" in Fiction and the Sixth Mass Extinction: Narrative in an Era of Loss, Ed. Jonathan Elmore (Spring 2020)
Co-editor, Environmental Creature Feature Special Issue in Science Fiction Film and Television (Spring 2021) (see CFP here)
"The Extinction-haunted Salton Sea in The Monster that Challenged the World (1957) in Fear and Nature: Ecohorror Studies in the Anthropocene, Eds. Christy Tidwell and Carter Soles (TBD)
Women's SF and Science Writing: Mid-century Popular Science and Ecomedia
News & Resources
Bridgitte Barclay was elected to the Executive Council for a three year term. Bridgitte helped organize the 2018 ASLE virtual symposium A Clockwork Green, and is co-organizer of the Ecomedia Studies SIG. She is Associate Professor of English at Aurora University and co-editor of Gender and Environment in Science Fiction.
A troubling paradox lies at the heart of ecomedia studies: those of us who study and teach about the intersection of ecological issues and non-print media also recognize that the production, consumption, and circulation of media texts take a massive toll on the Earth’s environment, an issue well documented by media scholars. In other words, as ecomedia scholars and environmental filmmakers, we must admit that our own media production, consumption, and research practices — which are felt disproportionately across communities and cultures — make us complicit in the ever-escalating global environmental crisis. Yet if we are to better understand the vital role that film and media play in reflecting, responding to, and shaping public attitudes about the relationships between the human and non-human worlds, as well as different human communities, we must embrace this paradox. In this first-ever ASLE online symposium, we will collectively situate and define ecomedia studies and its relationship to environmental humanities, film and media studies, and cultural studies through a series of virtual presentations and conversations.
Reviews of Gender and Environment in Science Fiction
Wasp Woman, fembots, bears in pants. A motley crowd of creatures and theories show up to this campy, monstrous, intellectual gathering, exposing the interrelations between science studies, ecomaterialism, disability studies, feminist theory, queer inhumanisms, cross-species kinships, Woman and Beast. Winding through a fantastic array of SF films and SF fiction, this important collection maps the intersections between gender studies and environmental studies as it calls us to craft livable futures. Don’t miss it!
— Stacy Alaimo, author of Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times
Gender and Environment in Science Fiction emerges at the intersection of gender and sexuality studies, ecocriticism, critical race and empire studies, disability studies, animal studies, media theory, utopianism, posthumanism, and more to become an instant classic in the study of science fiction. With a two-century span covering critical mainstays of the genre like Mary Shelley, Octavia E. Butler, and Kim Stanley Robinson alongside unexpected visitors like Scarlett Johansson, the Wasp Woman, Mad Max, and Smokey the Bear, Tidwell and Barclay have gathered together an absolutely essential collection of sharp, pointed, and wickedly clever scholarly interventions that chart exciting new directions for the field.
— Gerry Canavan, Associate Professor of 20th and 21st Century Literature, Marquette University, author of Octavia E. Butler
Gender and Environment in Science Fiction offers powerful new ways for thinking about the complex intersections between gender and nature, refusing an easy equation of woman=nature=environmentalism. Addressing a range of texts from novels by luminaries such as Mary Shelley and Kim Stanley Robinson, to popular film such as Ex Machina and Mad Max, this volume demonstrates that the connections between gender and the environment are neither obvious or necessarily harmonious. The essays collected here bring disability studies, queer theory, and posthumanism into the conversation, unifying their concerns with sustained attention to the materiality of the body, to offer innovative new perspectives on how science fiction speaks powerful to feminist and environmentalist scholars, and to connections between them.
— Sherryl Vint, University of California, Riverside
The insights of Donna Haraway and Stacy Alaimo reverberate often in these consistently provocative, intersectional re-framings of novels by Mary Shelley, Octavia Butler, and Kim Stanley Robinson as well as science fiction and horror films and comics from the 1950s to the 2010s. If you ever marvel that it's still 'Mother Nature' or wonder how and why misogynist, heteronormative thinking continues to shape our species and its relationships with others, this ecofeminist collection will prove revealing.
— Everett Hamner, Western Illinois University
The fascinating, original essays collected in Gender and Environment in Science Fiction engage a range of important and intersecting critical perspectives while attending to a diverse body of both canonical and relatively unknown and understudied science fiction works. This book is a welcomed expansion of ecocritical gender scholarship via incisive race-, feminist-, and queer-themed analyses of novels, films, comics, and characters—all of which the editors and contributors address with detailed and convincing scholarly insight.
— Eric Otto, Florida Gulf Coast University
This book delivers shrewd analyses of a wonderful and quirky range of SF texts. Barclay and Tidwell situate the project brilliantly, and the collection as a whole will illuminate familiar texts anew and add unfamiliar stories to your high-priority reading and screening queues.
— Andrew Hageman, Luther College