Organised by Nicola Guy and Angelica Sule.
The Carrier Bag Reading Group is a series of study sessions looking at science and speculative fiction from a feminist perspective.
The group takes its name from a short text written by Ursula Le Guin called The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction, which retells the story of human origin by redefining technology as a cultural carrier bag, rather than a weapon of domination. Here she gives voice and prominence to feminist storytelling as an alternative to the story of the hero or saviour often seen in mainstream science fiction.
Each week the group will look at both fiction and theory related to feminist science and speculative fictions, looking at utopia, dystopia and the posthuman. Readings for session one below – those for sessions two and three will follow.
Nicola Guy is a researcher and curator based in Nottingham. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Hull where she is undertaking research into representations of Berlin’s history of radical spatial politics in contemporary art exhibitions. Angelica Sule is the curator at Site Gallery.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place and for a copy of the readings.
Session 1 – Thursday 7 Nov, 6 – 8pm
Settling – How can we understand the idea of a utopia in the present day?
In Herland (1915) Charlotte Perkins Gilman tells the story of three men who go in search of a rumoured undiscovered land that is occupied only by women. Upon their arrival the men are held captive by the women, but treated well and asked to learn about their history and how they have come to live in this land. The narrator describes a world with no conflict and a population that are seemingly entirely satisfied with how and where they live, a sentiment the three men struggle with as they perceive Herland to be lacking comparatively to the world that they know. The men cannot understand this peaceful place, having previously believed that it is struggle and war that pushes us forward. Throughout the story we see the different ways they come to terms with Herland and recognise the faults that they have become used to.
Dr Chanda Prescod-Weinstein in Sonya Dyer’s Hailing Frequencies Open questions the content of the sci-fi in popular culture and highlights the importance of us looking for ‘the holes in our utopian science fiction’. In this session we will consider what we understand the term utopia to mean and what the problems are with the term and in the utopias that have been written. Taking Herland as a starting point for the discussion we will look at different representations of utopian lands and attempt to understand what the role of an imagine utopia is for us today, and how we can look beyond our own imaginations for different possible futures.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland, Chapter 5 – “A Unique History”
Audiobook version – https://librivox.org/herland-by-charlotte-perkins-gilman/
Antke Engel “DRIVEN INTO CONFLICT BY UTOPIA”
Art & Labour, Episode 20 – Amazon Cuomo (only the first half is directly relevant but the whole thing is worth listening to) http://www.artandlaborpodcast.com/podcast/episode-20-amazon-cuomo/
Session 2 – Thursday 5 Dec, 6 – 8pm
Ecologies – The dystopian present
Session 3 – Thursday 23 Jan, 6 – 8pm
Beyond the body – Posthumanism and Cyborgs in art