C4P: Cheryl Wollner-Finding the Female Quest in Sarah Monette's Melusine



Luna's fourth Call for Papers, Ties That Bind: Love in Fantasy and Science Fiction will be released on Saturday the 1st of August. Here is a chance to discover the 11 brilliant papers you will find in the book.

Today, we would like to introduce you to Cheryl Wollner (USA). MFA candidate in fiction at Florida Atlantic University. Currently, they are writing an alternate history novel about Bess and Harry Houdini.


Presenting the paper:

"Finding the Female Quest in Sarah Monette's Melusine"

Abstract:

In Sarah Monette’s (AKA Katherine Addison’s) fantasy series, The Doctrine of Labyrinths, she genders her male protagonist – Felix Harrowgate – as female. Though Felix is a cisgender man, Monette genders his character as female because he had been a sex worker, is raped, and is driven insane. Monette’s characters go on a quest – similar to Tolkien-esque fantasy novels – but she diverts the quest narrative away from hero-saves-the-world. Instead of the traditional hero’s journey, Monette writes a rape narrative and propels her novel by gendering Felix’s experience as female. Monette’s subversion of the quest narrative sends Felix on a female quest to find self-love. On this quest toward self-love he regains his sanity, and is able to possess language. Felix is a male character drawing attention to the gendered attributes that seem to strictly divide a woman’s story from a man’s. This gender divide holds special prominence in speculative fiction, where man equals hero and woman equals victim or decoration. By isolating Felix from his masculinity and steeping his experience in the feminine, Monette requires readers to deconstruct the masculine- male, feminine-female binary. In this essay, I analyze Melusine, the first novel in the series, through feminist and gender criticism. I draw on traditional fantasy sources, such as Tolkien’s The Silmarillion and Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, to ground my analysis. I supplement this work with studies on female language and female authorship (Madwoman in the Attic; “Laugh of the Medusa”). I tie my analysis together with a study of rape narratives, female language and subjectivity within fantasy. Cheryl Wollner’s fiction and nonfiction appear in the anthologies Today, Tomorrow, Always; Hashtag Queer Vol. 3; and The Best of Loose Change Anthology. They are the winner of Pulp Literature’s 2018 Raven Short Story contest for their story “Girls Who Dance in the Flames”. Currently, they are pursuing their MFA in fiction at Florida Atlantic University where they are writing an alternate history novel about Bess and Harry Houdini.

Ties That Bind: Love in Fantasy and Science Fiction

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