ABOUT THIS BOOK
What do Amsterdam prostitutes, NASA astronauts, cross-dressing texts, and Star Trek characters have in common? Only Marleen Barr knows for sure. In Genre Fission, the award-winning author revitalizes literary and cultural theory by proposing an entirely new discourse practice of examining the points where genres and attendant meanings first converge, then reemerge as something new. Part literary analysis, part cultural studies, part feminist critique flavored with a smattering of science fiction and utopian studies, it is witty and eccentric, entertaining and enlightening.
Barr expands postmodern assumptions about cultural studies by suggesting that "genre fission" is occurring among discrete literary and cultural "types" of events--mainstream novels, science fiction, historical narratives, film, paintings, and museum displays. For her literary insights, Barr turns her attention to such mainstream authors as Saul Bellow, John Updike, Marge Piercy, and John Barth as well as science fiction writers Ursula Le Guin and Octavia Butler and Hispanic American writers Julia Alvarez, Ana Castillo, and Cristina García, among others.
Barr moves from literary to culture studies by addressing such phenomena from contemporary mass culture as the urban landscapes of New York and Los Angeles, Jackie Kennedy, the Star Trek industry, Lynn Redgrave, Amsterdam's red light district, Lorena Bobbitt, and the Apollo astronauts--to provide only a few of the relevant examples. Thus Genre Fission attains what Barr herself designates (in describing the art of Judy Chicago and Lee Bontecou) as "utopian interweavings of difference," crossing numerous boundaries in order to frame a larger territory for exploration.