Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Women's Studies

Major Professor

Marilyn Myerson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Carolyn DiPalma, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ruth Banes, Ph.D.


Feminist utopia, Dystopia, Women science fiction writers, Feminist science fiction, Lesbian separatism


Works of feminist utopian literature project longing for and predict political change while confronting current social inequities. Often, they effectively interrogate Western models of citizenship and the institutions which reify them, suggesting alternate models. Here, I define Western citizenship as determined by the maintenance of the nation-state through gendered social roles that restrict women to the private sphere and men to the public. This thesis asserts that feminist utopian literature, like politically conscious music, art, and other forms of feminist praxis, is a politically necessary component of feminist consciousness because it facilitates much-needed visions of a more equitable future for all citizens. Here, patriarchy, separatism, socialism, and radical democracy, as well as attendant difficulties in implementation and ramifications for women, will be considered through the following works: Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland, Sally Miller Gearhart’s The Wanderground, Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Dispossessed, Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, and Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing. The thesis also comments on some of the narrative devices and themes of works discussed, such as nonlinear structure, avoidance of closure, altered states of consciousness, and exile. Analysis of these works relies in part on a growing body of speculative fiction criticism while also considering feminist theories of difference and vision. The thesis concludes with recommendations for utilizing feminist utopian literature as a part of feminist pedagogy.