Changing Bodies in the Fiction of Octavia Butler

Changing Bodies in the Fiction of Octavia Butler : Slaves, Aliens, and Vampires

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Changing Bodies in the Fiction of Octavia Butler is the first monograph of literary criticism invested in examining the complete body of fiction produced by Octavia Butler. This book interrogates Butler's feminist/postmodern/black woman's science fiction from an interdisciplinary perspective while maintaining its capacity to translate/extrapolate some of the most esoteric theories in modern thought.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 186 pages
  • 149.86 x 226.06 x 15.24mm | 294.83g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739193031
  • 9780739193037
  • 1,205,830

Review quote

This is a thorough and well-researched examination of the works of one of our finest 20th Century writers, Octavia E. Butler. Scholar Gregory Jerome Hampton helps us better understand the context of Butler's themes of body transformation in her work, and it is a must-read for anyone who wants a fuller appreciation for Butler's contribution to American literature. -- Tananarive Due, American Book Award winner, author of Blood Colony and My Soul To Keep At last, a book worthy of the perspicacity and imagination of one of the most vital authors of our time. Gregory Jerome Hampton's Changing Bodies in the Fiction of Octavia Butler: Slaves, Aliens, and Vampires lifts the veil on Butler's prolific corpus to tell the truth about Butler, her prodigious mind and the incontestable power of a legacy not yet fully realized. Drawing on not only the insights of traditional criticism, critical theory and genre studies, but on the most revelatory interviews with the author herself, Changing Bodies in the Fiction of Octavia Butler ingeniously extricates Butler from the quicksand debates about her proper place in African American literature and science fiction, and instead highlights the poverty of formal thought and theory until now to situate Butler in the field. Under Hampton's deft hand, Butler's proper place turns out to be, like the question of the body being interrogated in this fine work, situational. Few besides Hampton, whose respect for Butler's extraordinary career is enormous, could have shown this so smartly. Slaves, Aliens and Vampires is a luminous book with the lay and expert reader alike in mind. -- Maurice Wallace, Duke University In Changing Bodies in the Fiction of Octavia Butler, Gregory Hampton takes readers on a journey through Butler's most significant works, exploring a range of themes, from maternalism, agency, and the Middle Passage in Wild Seed, to hybridity and hierarchy, oppression and self-determination, symbiosis and slavery, and the complex role of gender and race that is evident in much of her writing. An especially valuable contribution is Hampton's examination of Fledgling, Butler's last novel, a work that has received only little critical attention so far, despite its representing all of these themes. Although scholarship concerning African-American literature and the fantastic has risen in the last decade, at one point there was so little scholarship on this writer, that every volume was a welcome link in an invisible chain. Hampton's work represents a solid addition to an ongoing discussion of a writer whose work we may never tire of examining and celebrating. -- Sheree Renee Thomas, editor of Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora and Dark Matter: Reading the Bones, winners of This work is a nuanced, careful, and interdisciplinary reading of Octavia E. Butler's works. The center of Hampton's analysis is the body, and the ways in which Butler understood and elaborated upon this theme in her many works. Hampton convinces the reader that Butler was successful in arguing for a new way of understanding the body that was radically different and even subversive. This central theme in Butler's works, Hampton argues, includes notions of race, identity and hybridity. Hampton utilizes with ease the insights from many scholars and disciplines to examine his subject matter, using for the works of Foucault, Carby, DuBois, Govan, Lacan, Melzer, and Lefanu, among others. He is able to link Butler to the multiple traditions of science fiction, African American literature and womanism. Butler, because she was situated within these multiple traditions, extended the discourse on race and identity that has existed since the trans-Atlantic Slave trade, to science fiction, which is one of her many contributions. Hampton illustrates his arguments with highly original readings of Butler's works, such as his comparison of Butler to DuBois and Soyinka's fiction. -- Hoda Zaki, Hood College This work is a nuanced, careful, and interdisciplinary reading of Octavia E. Butler's works. The center of Hampton's analysis is the body, and the ways in which Butler understood and elaborated upon this theme in her many works. Hampton convinces the reader that Butler was successful in arguing for a new way of understanding the body that was radically different and even subversive. This central theme in Butler's works, Hampton argues, includes notions of race, identity and hybridity. Hampton utilizes with ease the insights from many scholars and disciplines to examine his subject matter, using for the works of Foucault, Carby, DuBois, Govan, Lacan, Melzer, and Lefanu, among others. He is able to link Butler to the multiple traditions of science fiction, African American literature and womanism. Butler, because she was situated within these multiple traditions, extended the discourse on race and identity that has existed since the trans-Atlantic Slave trade, to science fiction, which is one of her many contributions. Hampton illustrates his arguments with highly original readings of Butler's works, such as his comparison of Butler to DuBois and Soyinka's fiction. Fans and scholars of Butler's work will also welcome Hampton's inclusion of his telephone interview with Butler and a transcript of her participation in a panel discussion at a conference hosted by Howard University in 2003. This is an important and timely study of a major literary figure and will be recognized as indispensable. -- Hoda Zaki, Hood College In Changing Bodies in the Fiction of Octavia Butler, Gregory Hampton takes readers on a journey through Butler's most significant works, exploring a range of themes, from maternalism, agency, and the Middle Passage in Wild Seed, to hybridity and hierarchy, oppression and self-determination, symbiosis and slavery, and the complex role of gender and race that is evident in much of her writing. An especially valuable contribution is Hampton's examination of Fledgling, Butler's last novel, a work that has received only little critical attention so far, despite its representing all of these themes. Although scholarship concerning African-American literature and the fantastic has risen in the last decade, at one point there was so little scholarship on this writer, that every volume was a welcome link in an invisible chain. Hampton's work represents a solid addition to an ongoing discussion of a writer whose work we may never tire of examining and celebrating. With Changing Bodies in the Fiction of Octavia Butler, Hampton joins an impressive community of pioneers whose scholarship on Octavia E. Butler's body of work and its significance may continue to thrive and to shape conversations about the study of Science Fiction and African American literature in powerful ways. -- Sheree Renee Thomas, editor of Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora and Dark Matter: Reading the Bones ...The highlights of this book were more the interviews, mostly because before her unfortunate death from a fall in 2006, I hadn't come across any by her. It is interesting that she points out that she didn't like to be pegged in either the SF or fantasy genres... If you are interested in Octavia Butler, then you will find this book of interest and should be added to your reading list. SFCrowsnest Changing Bodies is a solid, straightforward investigation of Octavia Butler's books and beliefs. Even though it tends to assume that science fiction is a homogeneous field, it has the considerable merit of clearly placing her work in the broader spectrum of African-American and American literature. Moreover, it shows how Butler wrote to empower other people, eventually opening sf up to diverse readerships and, maybe, making it easier for other writers of colo to engage in such a "white" genre. Science Fiction Studies In the past few years, the black race as a subject in science fiction has gained plenty of attention. Gregory Jerome Hampton's Changing Bodies in the Fiction of Octavia Butler: Slaves, Aliens, and Vampires is reflective of this claim ... Hampton's book is quirkily structured around what comes after the colon in his title, "Slaves, Aliens, and Vampires," the bodies of which cleverly reflect his personal history of reading Butler as well as his topic concerning the body, its construction, its value, and its marginalization. The Journal of the Fantastic in the Artsshow more

About Gregory Jerome Hampton

Gregory Jerome Hampton is associate professor of African American literature at Howard University.show more

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Introduction: Octavia Butler & Science Fiction Chapter 2 Chapter One: Kindred: History, Revision, and (Re)memory of Bodies Chapter 3 Chapter Two: Wildseed: The Paradox of Bodily Inscriptions Chapter 4 Chapter Three: Patternmaster: Hierarchies of Identity Chapter 5 Chapter Four: Discussing Duality and the Chthonic: Octavia Butler, Wole Soyinka, & W.E.B Du Bois Chapter 6 Chapter Five: Religious Science Fiction: Butler's Changing God Chapter 7 Chapter Six: Migration of the Hybrid Body Chapter 8 Chapter Seven: Vampires and Utopia: Reading Racial and Gender Politics in the Fiction of Butler Chapter 9 After Word: Vast Frontiers Chapter 10 On the Phone with Octavia Butler (October 2002) Chapter 11 New Frontier Panel Discussion: Butler, Barnes, Due, and Hopkinsonshow more

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