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"Strange Matings" and Unexpected Encounters: Octavia Butler’s Hybrid Fictions
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies. (Kulturvetenskapliga forskningsgruppen (KUFO))ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7640-0639
2015 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Title: “’Strange Matings’ and Unexpected Encounters: Octavia Butler’s Hybrid Fictions”


Abstract: “Strange matings” is a quotation from African American science-fiction writer Octavia Butler’s fifth novel, Wild Seed (1980) – it also serves as the title of the second book to date entirely devoted to Butler’s work. Nothing could be more appropriate since there are intimate as well as hostile encounters between humans and different species in many of her narratives from the Clayarks (a quadruped hybrid human-alien species) in her first published novel Patternmaster (1974) to the Ina (vampires) in her last novel, Fledgling (2005). Through these always cultural and often biological exchanges, Butler’s fiction explores the problems and possibilities of hybridity in ways that matches and sometimes surpass theoretical formulations of the concept. There is never an option for her human protagonists to settle with the notion of the “Sacred Image of the Same” (Butler, Survivor 1978); they have to find ways of dealing with “Others” – other races or ethnicities and/or other species– and with the outcomes of these encounters in terms of individual physical and mental changes and hybrid offspring. In this paper, I will examine a few examples of cross-species encounters in Butler’s fiction and discuss the theoretical implications of these fictional boundary crossings.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Octavia Butler, hybridity, cross-species encounters, Donna Haraway, Homi Bhabha
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URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-38905OAI: diva2:883545
Society for the Study of American Women Writers triennial conference, "Liminal Spaces, Hybrid Lives," 4-8 November, 2015, Philadelphia
Available from: 2015-12-17 Created: 2015-12-17 Last updated: 2016-01-04Bibliographically approved

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