1st Edition

Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Popular Fantasy Beyond boy wizards and kick-ass chicks

    202 Pages
    by Routledge

    202 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores the ways in which contemporary writers, artists, directors, producers and fans use the opportunities offered by popular fantasy to exceed or challenge norms of gender and sexuality, focusing on a range of media, including television episodes and series, films, video games and multi-player online role-play games, novels and short stories, comics, manga and graphic novels, and board games. Engaging directly with an enormously successful popular genre which is often overlooked by literary and cultural criticism, contributors pay close attention to the ways in which the producers of fantasy texts, whether visual, game, cinematic, graphic or literary texts, are able to play with gender and sexuality, to challenge and disrupt received notions and to allow and encourage their audiences to imagine ways of being outside of the constitutive constraints of socialized gender and sexual identity. With rich case studies from the US, Australia, UK, Japan and Europe, all concentrating not on the critique of fantasy texts which duplicate or reinforce existing prejudices about gender and sexuality, but on examining the exploration of or attempt to make possible non-normative gendered and sexual identities, this volume will appeal to scholars across the social sciences and humanities, with interests in popular culture, fantasy, media studies and gender and sexualities.

    Introduction, Jude Roberts and Esther McCallum-Stewart

    1. Hiding in plain sight: the invisibility of queer fantasy, Stephen Kenneally

    2. Queering magic: Robin Hobb and fantasy literature's radical potential, Lenise Prater

    3. It takes a pack to raise a child: anti-conservatism and the non-normative family in Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, Katharine Harris

    4. Strange boys, queer boys: gay representations in young adult fantastic fiction, Andrew M. Butler

    5. Even better than the real thing: fantasy and phantasy in Boys’ Love manga, Anna Madill

    6. Turning people into things: object relations and posthuman reproduction in weird short fiction, Lisa Bennett

    7. ‘Everything’s interconnected’: anarchy, ecology and sexuality in Lost Girls and Swamp Thing, Matthew J. A. Green

    8. Playing past the 'straight male gamer': from modding Edwin(a) to bisexual Zevran, Steven Holmes

    9. Playing with gender: (re-)imagining men and women in fantasy board games, Adam Brown and Deb Waterhouse-Watson

    10. Supernatural hymens and bodies from hell: screening virginity through the gothic body, Katherine Farrimond

    11. The tale of the women: gender, gender roles, and sexuality in Emma Donoghue's Kissing the Witch, Keridwen N. Luis



    Jude Roberts is a researcher in gender and sexualities in contemporary popular cultures and a Teaching Fellow in English at Keele University, UK. She has published research on gender and sexual minorities, science fiction and fantasy, censorship, obscenity and critical theory and is currently completing a monograph titled Contemporary Pornographic Comics and the Politics of Sexual Representation.

    Esther MacCallum-Stewart is Research Fellow at the Digital Cultures Research Centre of the University of the West of England, UK. She writes widely on player narratives in video games, sex, love and gender in games, and role-playing practices, as well as running gaming conventions and promoting inclusion in fandom. She is editor of Playing with Affection: The Game Love Reader and author of Players Vs Games: Online Communities, Social Narratives.

    ‘Examining fantasy for both adults and young adults, and recognising the range of platforms which now support the genre, this is a sharp and incisive examination of gender and sexuality subversion in modern fantasy.’Professor Farah Mendlesohn, Anglia Ruskin University, UK

    'This incisive and wide-ranging essay collection provides a much-needed point of engagement with the exponential growth of contemporary popular fantasy, in which new ways of performing sexuality and gender are continually emerging, as the social constraints of traditional binaries and hierarchies dissolve before our eyes.' Dr Nick Hubble, Brunel University London, UK