[UPDATE: Deadline extended] The Female Science Fiction Western (Abstracts due August 15, 2016; collection of essays)

deadline for submissions: 
August 15, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Melanie A. Marotta / Kolin Ford

We are seeking original, previously unpublished essays for a collection tentatively titled The Science Fiction Western: Representation of Female Characters in the Late Twentieth and Twenty-first Century Media. In reference to historians' accounts of the frontier, Susan Armitage writes that "Women are either absent or incidental to the story". While women may have been attracted to the Frontier Myth concept, they are infrequently the main focus of American Western stories. Adult males, however, appeared prominently within literature in connection to this myth. Even after its closure, the frontier continued to live on: the Western as a literary genre has already appeared but grows in popularity with the publication of Owen Wister's adventure novel, The Virginian (1902). Over time, the American imagination was captured and the Western no longer appeared purely in literary form, but also in film and subsequently television. By the late 1960s the public's attention shifted from the Western and film and television production in this genre significantly decreased. It was not until 1990 with the release of Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves that the genre experienced any real increase in interest. With the appearance of Joss Whedon's groundbreaking (if short-lived) Space Western series Firefly (2002), the viewers' attention was once again turned to the science fiction Western, a form popularized in the pulps of the 1920s. With Whedon's series and other multimedia representations of the science fiction western, the viewer witnesses not the stereotypical roles for Western women, but the placement of women in roles traditionally occupied by men and also in non-gendered roles. With the advent of the late twentieth and twenty-first century, the science fiction western has increased in popularity and with that interest, an increase in focus has been placed on female characters.

Study direction: This study will investigate the changing role of females in late twentieth and twenty-first-century in American Western science fiction. Are the roles for female changing or are they recreations of traditional / typical Western roles for women? For this study, we have chosen to examine the period that began just before the release of Costner's monumental film, going up to and including twenty-first-century media. We have also chosen to include the Science Fiction Western and the Space Western (see Paul Green's definitions in the Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns if clarification is needed).

Works that could be considered: The Expanse, Killjoys, Defiance, Cowboys vs. Aliens, Guardians of the Galaxy, Red Dead Revolver, Star Wars, Star Trek (films and TNG, etc.), Jonatham Letham' Girl in the Landscape, Octavia E. Butler's Parables, Pat Cadigan's The Girl-Thing, The Postman, The Adventures of Briscoe County Jr., Dark Matter, etc.

Please do not submit abstracts about anime, comic books, graphic novels, and tabletop gaming.

The essays will be grouped into the following sections: literature, film, television, and gaming. The deadline for a 500-750 word abstract is August 15, 2016. Abstracts of proposed essays and a brief CV should be sent to femalesfwestern@gmail.com. Deadline for completed essays of 5,000-7,000 words (15-20 double-spaced pages) is December 18, 2016. As this collection is to be submitted to an American publishing company that has previously expressed interest, MLA style guidelines must be followed.

Co-editors: Melanie A. Marotta is a Lecturer in the Department of English and Language Arts and the Interim Director of the Writing Center at Morgan State University and Kolin Ford is a Lecturer in Film Language at Buckinghamshire New University, Buckinghamshire, UK, and a freelance Games Writer.