An exploration of the lineage of female utopian literature


My paper assesses the effects of periodization on feminist representations of utopias. The first text acknowledged is Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World, followed by Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland, and concluding with Angela Carter’s collection of short stories entitled The Bloody Chamber. The paper demonstrates how one can mark the different movements within feminism throughout history as the nature of the utopian genre is that it reflects the desires of individuals within contemporary society. The utopia as a genre is becoming an increasingly diverse literary segment and one which can be described as under construction. We are moving towards new terms such as ‘ustopia’ which acknowledges that one’s utopia can be another’s dystopia. The utopian genre fuels and supports critical and satirical writing and so the method of periodization and assessing its lineage leads to illuminating details on historical movements which in this case is feminism.


feminism; utopmia; periodization; dystopia; gender politics

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Published : 2019-09-30

Crabtree, E. (2019) “An exploration of the lineage of female utopian literature”, Crossroads. A Journal of English Studies, (26), pp. 21-32. doi: 10.15290/cr.2019.26.3.02.

Emma Crabtree 
University of Buckingham, UK  United Kingdom

Emma Crabtree is nearing the end of her MA at University of Buckingham by research which discusses Naomi Alderman’s novel The Power and its presentation of the structures of power within society, in connection with fourth wave feminism. Women’s writing is of key interest to her, especially female dystopian novels which are often driven by a critique of society through forceful feminist messages.