Science Fiction, Canonization, Marginalization, and the Academy

By Gary Wastfahl; George Slusser | Go to book overview

Chapter 10
Multiculturalism and the Cultural
Dynamics of Classic American
Science Fiction

George Slusser

One of the most persistent players in recent academic arguments over canonization and marginalization is so-called “multiculturalism.” The attitude of multiculturalists toward science fiction as a rule is either dismissive (it speaks for the dominant hegemonic class) or preemptory. In the latter sense, students are sent to find “minority” voices, and when these are not found, to do as Ursula K. Le Guin did in her The Norton Book of Science Fiction and invent them, incorporating writers by force under this heading whose stories do not conform to the generic expectations of the average reader.

More interesting than the fact of a multiculturalist assault on sf is the question: why argue about sf? What power vested in sf is being challenged? It seems rather that the two contestants—multiculturalism and “classic American sf” (so named to distinguish it from Le Guin's “revisionist” kind)—are both responding to the same thing. They share, if nothing else, a common recognition of the failure of constitutional liberalism, as defined in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, in dynamic terms, as a drive to “form a more perfect union” by legislating universal rights, especially when the more abstract right to liberty is linked to a freedom to pursue happiness. However, both the multiculturalist and science-fictionist see the dynamics of American culture to lie not in universal but in special powers. What is more, there is further irony in the fact that both these visions—politically correct and politically incorrect alike—proclaim a dynamic that is basically similar: to promote equal opportunity as the means of generating necessary inequalities. Each is free, in the Napoleonic sense, to rise according to his or her talent. It is instead a matter of how “talent” is defined, and what use it serves. Is it an abstract entity, the means of bestowing some qualitative “empowerment”? Or is it instead something pragmatic, the means of doing something?

It may seem strange to compare multiculturalism, a cultural “theory,” with a literary form, which in relation to theory can only be its medium or vehicle of expression. Yet the master-narrative of sf operates on a strongly mythic level—the

-103-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Science Fiction, Canonization, Marginalization, and the Academy
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 182

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.