Séminaire SEARCH UR 2325
Sibylle Doucet (SEARCH), Reading in the Margins: the Construction of Readerly Involvement in Philip Pullman's Multiverse Ensemble
This paper aims at studying how, by blurring the lines between the real world and the worlds of fiction, British author Philip Pullman attempts to stimulate his readers' active involvement in the act of reading. By looking at the texts of the ensemble both as works of fiction and as physical objects to be interacted with, it analyses the various strategies put in place so as to develop readerly agency and engagement. This process is made possible by the creation of highly liminal texts, intertexts and intertextual objects, in which fiction and reality seemingly overlap and seep into each other, to be identified and unravelled by an active reader. The didactic dimension of this endeavour is underlined, notably in relation to the author's former teaching career and open ideological stance regarding education.
Sibylle Doucet holds a PhD in English literature from the University of Strasbourg (2021, under the supervision of Sophie Mantrant). She teaches at the University of Grenoble Alpes.
Kathryn Heffner (University of Kent, Centre for American Studies)
‘More Girls than Copies’: Queer Fictions of the Future in Post-War Fan Productions
Scholarship on the queer histories and the genre of the fantastic often share similar justice-oriented approaches to excavating and elevating narratives from the margin. Both fictions and lived representations of gay lesbian bisexual trans and queer (LGBTQ) identities have worked to disrupt heterosexual boundaries and borders. This paper explores the amateur printing productions of the early science fiction female fan, Edythe Edye aka ‘Lisa Ben,’ who published, disseminated, and speculated queer futurity in the post-war period. Her fan-magazine (colloquially referred to as a ‘fanzine’) was published beyond the borders of mainstream heterosexual magazines and worked to curate gay and lesbian media productions from the margin.
In 1947, she sat down at her desk at RKO studios in Los Angeles, armed with reams of carbon copy paper and a typewriter. Away from the purview of her boss and with ample free time, Edythe Edye produced what would be the first American lesbian fanzine, Vice Versa. As the editor of this production, Edye adopted the pen name ‘Lisa Ben’ (an anagram for the word ‘lesbian’). Within Vice Versa, Ben utilized the critical reading and writing skills she gained in science fiction and fantasy fandom, to popularize queer media productions. While documenting and critiquing lesbian media productions, Ben also contributed speculative work, articulating queer futurities. Ben wrote across genres, producing poetry and short stories about the future of the gay and lesbian lifestyle. After typing and duplicating her magazine, her affective production was distributed in intersectional working class and BIPOC gay bars in Los Angeles. Ben was unable to mass produce her fanzine and advised her readers to pass along the magazine to other women who might also be interested in the lesbian lifestyle. Vice Versa was an iconic fanproduction whichwould later go to inform other gay and lesbian printing productions, such as the American mainstream magazine One and The Ladder.
In this talk, I examine both the intimate printing and public distribution process of Vice Versa, situating her fan labour between the borders of the public and private. In doing so, I argue that this intimate element of her making process influenced her future-centred fiction writing within the magazine. As she wrote her speculative queer fictions with a sense of anonymity while publicly distributing the fanzine at lesbian bars, Ben resisted the borders and boundaries of heterosexual magazine fictions. Lisa Ben’s engagement with science fiction fandom ---as well as--- LGBTQ affinity groups, allowed for readers to speculate visions of queer futures and liberation.
Kathryn Heffner is a postgraduate student at the University of Kent, studying the History of Science and Technology. She holds a Masters of Library and Information Science and a Bachelor’s of English Literature (Honours) from the University of Iowa. The title of her PhD is Femmes in Fandom: Women's Participation in 20th Century Science (Fiction) Clubs.