[EXTENDED] MONSTERS VS. ALIENS: GENDER, POWER, AND SEXUALITY IN THE "ALIEN" AND "UNDERWORLD" FILMS

deadline for submissions: 
January 25, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Christie Rinck, University of South Florida
contact email: 

MONSTERS VS. ALIENS: GENDER, POWER, AND SEXUALITY IN THE ALIEN AND UNDERWORLD FILMS

 

The portrayal of women warriors in literature and popular culture is a subject of study in history, literary studies, film studies, folklore, and mythology.  In 2011, Rebecca Stringer noted the archetypal figure of the woman warrior is an example of a normal thing that happens in some cultures, while also being a counter stereotype, opporing the normal construction of war, violence and agression as masculine.  This convention-defying position makes the female warrior (or, shero, heroine, hero) a prominent topic of investigation for discourses surrounding female power and gender roles in society.

Judith Newton has described Alien as "a utopian fantasy of women's liberation, a fantasy of economic and social equality, friendship, and collectivity between middle-class women and men."  The first Underworld film was a female-driven action movie in an era long before Fury Road and The Force Awakens, when there was a scarcity of women in complex, interesting lead roles in the genre.  Noting the similarities and differences in these series leads us to question cinema's heriones and wonder if these really are feminist films.  We ponder topics like the woman's right to assume authority is not an issue; authority and power are ceded to persons irrespective of sex, solely in regard to their position and function.  The way these films take for granted the hero's assumption of command, and her right to order and shove "the men" around.

Rebecca Bell-Meterneau describes the drastic differences between Ripley and the cinema's heroines prior to Alien by noting that most science fiction and fantasy films depict women as the helpmate to man.  She is more often than not a hindrance at the crucial moment when the protagonist is trying to escape from or defeat the villians, aliens, or monsters.

Jeffrey Weinstock reaches beyond initial feminist readings of these films, discovering evidence for a view that includes queering, linkages back to lesbian vampire movies of the 1970s (the "other" as the monster), and the idealization of hyperbolic heterosexual gender norms.

We invite essays that explore the following themes as they relate to the film series of Alien and Underworld, individually, as a collection, or as a series-to-series contrast.

  • Sheroes/heroines vs. female heroes vs. simply heroes
  • Horror/slasher film technique
  • Xenophobia
  • Villian as "other"
  • LGBTQ/GSD representation, gender policing and bashing
  • Technology, robots, drones
  • Disability, body type, ageism
  • Human vs. non-human
  • Privilege of whilte, middle-class women
  • Becoming a hero, expectations of the hero
  • Fantasy of economic and social equality
  • The woman as demon trope
  • Interstitiality
  • Feminist anxiety
  • Assimiliation or annihilation of women towards masculinity
  • Gender insubordination
  • Capitalist power in monster/alien world (who is really the "boss" behind the scenes)
  • Monster/alien as representation or "passing"
  • Homoeroticism
  • Other related topics are encouraged!

We anticipate that this anthology will include 16-20 essays and, as a working guide, the essays should be 4000-4500 words.  Essays must adhere to the most current MLA format.

Submission Guidelines: Send a 500-word abstract in Word, followed by a short bibliography showing the paper's scholarly and theoretical context.  Also include a brief bio and full CV.  Send to Christie Rinck at crinck@usf.edu no later than January 25, 2018. Acceptance announcements will be emailed in February with final drafts due by April 30, 2018.