Friday, January 28, 2011

CFP: Femspec's Special Issue on Motherhood and Reproduction in the Speculative Imagination: Lived in Reality and As Created in Fiction and Other Genres

Are you a "strong" mom? Do you kick butt and take prisoners in real life or your imagination? Do you know of a strong mom in real life who would make a great character in sf, fantasy, magical realism, surrealism, myth, folklore, or other supernatural genres? Can't think of any but wish you could?

These are the types of questions that led a group to discuss the idea of the "Kick *ss Mom" at WisCon, which is a feminist-centered, science fiction and fantasy convention held in Madison, WI every year. At WisCon 33, amongst a number of interesting panels was one that addressed a specific, focused issue:

Most female characters in SF, fantasy, and other supernatural genres don't seem to have children. Those who do are often relegated to a peripheral role until the children are grown. However, characters who balance raising a child and saving the world can be fascinating. Why aren't there more of them?

What we discovered during the panel, however, is that many could think of a number of female characters who seem to belong to the category, if the definition of a "Kick *ss Mom" is modified to include women who are strong in ways that don't always include carrying a sword while swaddling a baby.

The more interesting questions, beyond identifying individual characters, became "what/who is a mom" and "what does it mean to 'kick *ss'"? For instance, is Buffy a mom to Dawn? Do the women in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland kick butt? Can a planet be a mom in this discussion? Are all strong moms also strong role models? If so, where do we place "evil" female characters in this discussion if they have given birth? Does giving birth automatically make someone a mom or is emotional commitment more important than biology?

As you can probably tell, the discussion became very animated during our panel discussion, and it seems like the sort of discussion that ought to continue. To that end, Femspec is interested in producing a special issue centering on issues such as those mentioned and any others pertinent to the general focus of women, motherhood and reproduction in the speculative imagination.

We are looking for works which go beyond the stereotype of the mom who will protect her "cubs" to the death and aim to investigate mothering at multiple levels of the child's development, how mothers who continue to be adventurers deal with the issues related to mothering, moms of adventurers, and how they "fit" in the genres mentioned (Molly Weasley comes easily to mind but there are so many others), and the "disappearing baby" syndrome that is used so often to put a woman in jeopardy, where her baby vanishes in some mystical fashion and returns as an adolescent or adult later in the story, having been absent for all of the "mothering" portion of his/her/its young life.

Do you have a story to tell? A poem to share? A piece of art that could be reproduced in print? An author to interview? An area on this topic on which you could develop an annotated bibliography? Do you want to critically analyze the differences between moms in myth and contemporary fiction or look at the unique ways that fantasy film portrays mothers and mothering? Do you know women who have parented children in unusual ways, going beyond the norm to create modern mythic prototypes of new ways of living, for example, by challenging gender by how they raised their kids in community? Do you have an idea not mentioned? Propose it and let's see what sort of a celebration of mothering we can produce together!!


Here are the details:

Submissions should be mailed to Batya Weinbaum at:
1610 Rydalmount
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

We need two copies, and a subscription, as all submitters must be subscribers from the onset and all the way through to publication.

Submissions must *exclude* any indication of your name on them so that your piece may be read anonymously.

Include a separate sheet with the title and genre of your piece, your name, address, email, phone and a two sentence abstract.

Also, include a disc with your document in Word and .rtf format.

All submissions should conform to MLA standards, as found in the latest edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. MLA guidelines can also be found online at:

Any submission that does not come in with sufficient copies will not be sent through the review process.

We will accept submissions through June 15, 2011.

Please note AGAIN that only subscribers may submit to Femspec. To subscribe, go to Reduced rates for special categories (student, retired, disabled, un or underemployed, household member of another subscriber) available for $30 but must be mailed by check with your submission.

Add $10 to all outside of the US submissions.

E-mail editorial enquiries should go to Batya Weinbaum at:

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