December 4, 2015
Eugene, OR—adrienne maree brown, an independent science fiction scholar and a social justice activist, has been chosen as the 2015-16 Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellow. Brown lives in Detroit, Michigan, and is the coeditor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements, published last March by AK Press, San Francisco.
The Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship, now in its third year, is sponsored equally by the Center for the Study of Women in Society, Robert D. Clark Honors College, and the UO Libraries Special Collections and University Archives. The award supports travel for the purpose of research on, and work with, the papers of feminist science fiction authors housed in the Knight Library.
brown wrote in her fellowship proposal that she has been a scholar of the science fiction genius of Octavia Butler since first reading her Parable of the Sower in college. “Octavia’s young, black female protagonists show us a feminism that evolves in relationship to constantly changing conditions,” she said. “Her content includes everything we need to pay careful attention to, and is used as the foundation for conversations on how we belong in the universe, how we interact with the future.”
brown said her study of Butler’s work led to the creation of an Octavia Butler Sci Fi and Social Justice Strategic Reader, which she coedited, followed by the aforementioned anthology, Octavia’s Brood, an anthology of visionary science fiction and speculative fiction written by organizers and activists. brown has been touring the country and facilitating workshops that engage people in Butler’s work and their own visionary potential, along with her coeditor, Portland-based writer, scholar, and spoken word artist Walidah Imarisha.
With the support of the Le Guin Fellowship, brown plans to turn her attention to the work of Ursula K. Le Guin in order to create a “Le Guin Sci Fi and Social Justice Reader,” which she described as a set of guiding questions and responsive essays on Le Guin’s work. “I plan to look at the characters of her stories, many of whom operate in a world of divergent gender and sexual norms, for guidance,” she said. “As we move beyond gay marriage and Caitlyn Jenner, I am particularly curious about the kinds of love and relationships that are strategic for our collective evolution.”
brown explained that one of her areas of independent scholarship is something she calls “Pleasure Activism—the study of how issues of justice intersect with experiences of pleasure. So much of our work for social justice involves uplifting reasons for people to feel fear and guilt as a way to motivate behavioral changes. I have been examining what happens when we instead put forward compelling visions for the future, particularly in the form of visionary fiction. Le Guin does this at a prolific rate, with grace and ease. Her messages don’t feel didactic, but exploratory, invitational. She is one of our tremendous and rare teachers, and I want to produce a literary series that uplifts her as a visionary fiction icon.”
In 2013, Professor Moya Bailey conducted an interview with Brown for Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology that can be found here: http://adanewmedia.org/2013/11/issue3-baileybrown/.
The announcement of this year’s fellowship award will be made at the James Tiptree, Jr. Symposium on Dec. 4. The symposium honors the life and work of feminist science fiction author Alice B. Sheldon, who wrote under the pen name James Tiptree, Jr., and celebrates the acquisition of her papers by the UO Libraries Special Collections and University Archives. UO Libraries is home to one of the most important archives of feminist science fiction authors in the country. For more about these collections, visit http://library.uoregon.edu/node/3524.