Lecture 14 - Into Gethen

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Fourteenth lecture for my students in English 192, "Science Fiction," summer 2013 at UC Santa Barbara.

Course website: http://patrickbrianmooney.nfshost.com/~patrick/ta/m13/

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Lecture 14 - Into Gethen

  1. 1. Lecture 14: Into Gethen English 192 Summer 2013 27 August 2013 “[T]here are difficulties in such a representation (e.g., the unavoidable designation of gender by English pronouns) […] Still, the reader's failures are not all her own, and the inveterate tendency of students to describe the Gethenians as ‘sexless’ says something about the limits imposed by stereotypes of gender on their own imaginations.” — Fredric Jameson, “World-Reduction in Le Guin: The Emergence of Utopian Narrative” (225)
  2. 2. Please give your attention to Lauren Bacon, who will open our discussion of gender in The Left Hand of Darkness.
  3. 3. The world, Gethen “It may turn out to have nothing to do with their androgyne psychology. […] [T]here is the climate. The weather of Winter is so relentless, so near the limit of tolerability even to them with all their cold-adaptation, that perhaps they use up their fighting spirit fighting the cold. The marginal peoples, the races that just get by, are rarely the warriors. And in the end, the dominant factor in Gethenian life is not sex or any other human thing: it is there environment, their cold world. Here man has a crueler enemy even than himself.” (Le Guin 96)
  4. 4. Gethenian politics and economics “Along in those four millennia the electric engine was developed, radios and power loom and power vehicles and farm machinery and all the rest began to be used, and a Machine Age got going, gradually, without any industrial revolution, without any revolution at all. Winter hasn’t achieved in thirty centuries what Terra once achieved in thirty decades. Neither has Winter ever paid the price that Terra paid.” (98) “What is this to say but that Karhide is an attempt to imagine something like a West which would never have known capitalism? The existence of modern technology in the midst of an essentially feudal order is the sign of this imaginative operation as well as the gauge by which its success can be measured.” (Jameson 228)
  5. 5. Karhide and Orgoreyn ● What presuppositions about gender does the novel embody? ● What presuppositions about gender does the novel question? ● Gendered territories ● The quest narrative ● The narrator
  6. 6. Gethenian sexual biology (ch. 7)

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