The Abstracts — Femspec 11.1, Vol 11, Issue 1, 2010
Summary: This issue is dedicated to Ritch Calvin for his years of dedicated work. Issue 11.1 lists the winners of “The Best of the Second Five Years.” The categories are fiction, criticism, memoirs, poetry, art, and reviews. We have essays by Susan Smith, Melissa J. Strong, and Batya Weinbaum. Susan Morgan takes us into the world of Thai artist Skowmon Hastanan. We also have an interview with Sonia Johnson. In conference coverage, we have reports on the OLOC National Gathering, the Cleveland International Film Festival, and the Cleveland Jewish Film Festival. Included in this issue is a short story by Kelly VanBuren, and we reintroduce our historical document feature with Leslie F. Stone's “Men with Wings.” In addition, we have several reviews in this issue, on films and publications.
By Batya Weinbaum
Our editor talks about her experience at the 2009 Modern Language Association meetings. She also thinks ahead to the future of Femspec, what it's like to publish a print journal in a digital age, and comments on the current issue. Batya closes by remembering the late Fran Day, editor of Sinister Wisdom.
“‘Neither Normal nor Human’: The Cyborg in C.L. Moore's ‘No Woman Born’” By Susan Smith Deirdre, Moore's cyborg protagonist, is illustrative of the transformation female gender underwent in America throughout World War II and its aftermath. Moore's short story also pre-empts Donna Haraway's 1985 essay “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, technology and socialist feminism in the 1980s.”
“The Limits of Newness:’ Hybridity in Octavia E. Butler's Fledgling” By Melissa J. Strong The positive possibilities Shori offers as a dark-skinned human-vampire hybrid are complicated by members of the Ina community who marginalize and even persecute her. The unequal relationship between Ina and humans further limits the possibilities Shori represents. Reading the novel through the lens of critical race theory reveals that both Shori's position and hybridization itself remain problematic in Fledgling.
“What the Gypsy Woman Probably Didn't Tell the Female Anthropologist: A Critical Response to Judith Okely's Own or Other Culture” By Batya Weinbaum Okely's examination of fortune telling in gypsy communities is complicated by her unfamiliarity with esoteric practice. Honest study of the supernatural can be facilitated by immersion and personal training in these practices, as these are the only methods for learning cultural cues and winning the trust of practitioners. Rather than con artists, fortune tellers fulfill a role that is at once spiritual and poetic.
“Skydancers and other Mystiques: Works by Skowmon Hastanan” By Susan Morgan Thailand-born artist Skowmon Hastanan works in New York Ciy creating socially progressive art with Himalayan religious imagery. (See our special feature)
“Old Lesbians for Change: The 2010 OLOC National Gathering” By Batya Weinbaum Batya attends a meeting of Old Lesbians Organizing for Change and reflects on the history of lesbian activism and the marginalization of the old. She also has an idea for a CFP.
“Femspec at the Cleveland International Film Festival 2010” By Emmy Levine In this article, Emmy Levine writes of her experience at the Cleveland International Film Festival. She reviews a variety of films ranging from short films to Bollywood extravaganzas. Levine visits the festival as a means to explore fantasy, science fiction, folklore, and magical realism from a feminist perspective. The festival proves to be an interesting and sometimes disappointing journey, providing many opportunities to reflect on women (and at times the absence of women) in film.
“Returning to the Cleveland Jewish Film Festival: Seven Minutes to Heaven” By Li Weinbaum Li Weinbaum views several films, including Protector, which is about a Romanian woman who is forced to abandon her successful acting career during World War II. While eager to be immersed in Jewish culture, Li discusses how the community fails to empower women and support the feminist media.
“Hired by a Witch” By Kelly VanBuren A babysitter discovers something disturbing about the family she works for. Does the boy she's babysitting have an active imagination, or was she indeed hired by a witch?
“Review of Cherez terniik zvyozdam” By Camille Fefevre This science fiction B-movie from Russian director Richard Viktorov was once featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Our reviewer notes the difference between its frail protagonist and the more active heroes of American cinema.
“Review of girls, femnism, and grassroots literacies” By Audrey Lundahl Mary P. Sheridan-Rabideau's book examines modern grassroots feminist organizations. Audrey Lundahl encourages the book's emphasis on the necessity for such organizations to be well-informed in rhetorical feminist theory.
“A Bridge across Time: A Review of Brookland” By Lani Ravin Emily Barton's gilded age historical novel tracks the rise and fall of a talented but prideful woman. Ravin has some reservations with Barton's rose-colored view of the past.
“Review of Books on Motherhood” By Maureen T. Reddy Our reviewer looks at seven selections on the topic of motherhood. From Mothering and Blogging to Motherhood Misconceived, Reddy examines a variety of approaches to the topic.
“Review of Marshlanders” By Kelly VanBuren Annis Pratt's entertaining tale focuses on the effects of avarice and oppression on susceptible communities. Kelly VanBuren makes recommendations on the use of this book in a classroom setting.
“Review of The Cinematic Life of the Gene” By Kelly VanBuren Kelly reviews Jackie Stacey's book on the themes of genetic engineering and cloning in film. The book's deep and thoughtful analyses are impressive, and fans of speculative fiction films will want to read this review.
“When a Woman Leads: A Review of Sasha” By Kelly VanBuren In contrast to the typical male-centric fantasy tale, Joel Sheperd's novel presents a heroic female protagonist who is more than capable. Our reviewer discusses the positive effect such characters can have on readers, especially young women.
“Books in the Baba-Lover Lane” By Batya Weinbaum Batya Weinbaum reviews two books on religious leader Meher Baba: The Mystery of the Manifestation: Suddenism, Gradualism, and Nihilism by Kenneth Lux; and Journey in Consciousness based on the Message of Avatar Meher Baba by Rose Reed. Our reviewer discusses how these two very different works together offer a complementary picture of the influential figure.
“Encountering Alix Dobkin” By Batya Weinbaum Batya Weinbaum reviews My Red Blood, the memoir of performer Alix Dobkin. Read the article to find out why Batya believes this to be an important book for American history.
“Reviewing Films at the Cleveland International Film Festival: The Exhibition, Inside Hana's Suitcase, Queen to Play” By Batya Weinbaum Our reviewer sees the Italian film La Muestra and finds a message to female artists. She also reviews Inside Hana's Suitcase and Queen to Play.