Thelma J. Shinn, Worlds of Words and Swords: Suzette Haden Elgin and Joanna Russ atWork, in Women Worldwalkers: New Dimensions of Science Fiction and Fantasy 207(Jane B. Weedman ed. 1985).Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The best interpretive essays do three things: 1) They establish the strategy by which you, the essayist, choose to find meaning. They might do this explicitly, by saying something like "I propose to do a Marxist reading in order to examine the assumptions about class relations exhibited in the text," or they may be more subtle, announcing the strategy through certain key words. If, for example, an essay's thesis paragraph refers to "desire," "the mirror stage," and "libidinal impulses," it is almost certainly drawing on psychoanalytic modes of interpretation. 2) They "read," or interpret, the work in question according to that strategy, giving lots of specific examples from the text. And 3) They make a point or an argument. Simply paraphrasing the literary work in your own words is not the same as interpreting it, because a paraphrase will not answer the question, "so what?" You need to place the work's ideas in some context, in order to write persuasively about it. Being self-consciously explicit about your interpretive strategy can help you develop a thesis.
The theories of psychoanalysis, primarily identified with Sigmund Freud, can be applied to imaginative literature and art in general, in order to study their manifest and latent content, in the same way as Freud studied dreams....
Today, "The Girl Who Was Plugged In" is most often discussed as a forerunner of cyberpunk; and certainly no particular work better substantiates Delany’s observation that feminist sf is the great unacknowledged mother of the tradition that stems from (1984).
SHAPE YOUR ARGUMENT. Decide now what rhetorical strategy you will use in the arrangement of your essay. Will it be deductive, that is, begin with a general statement of your point, then proceed to illustrate it with specific examples arranged around sub-points? Or will it be inductive, arguing through specific examples that "build" to a concluding statement?
The point is that, when gender is regarded, positivistically, as an unproblematic and stable entity (and such conceptions usually, though not invariably, assume a taken-for-granted regime of "normal" heterosexuality), then the most radical challenges of which feminism is capable are elided.
The account is also naturalized, for Nelson notes that observationis largely structured as current theories would have it, meaning thatobservational experience is explained by scientific accounts such asthose given in neurobiology, developmental biology, neuropsychologyand evolutionary biology, rather than by a philosophicalaccount. Nelson points to feminist and other case studies of goodscientific work which show that socio-political values influencescientific justification. (See 1990, 205–212 and passim for adiscussion of the “man, the hunter” theory of humanevolution; 1995, 410–413 and 414 for a discussion of work inneuroendocrinology showing that hemispheric lateralization issex-differentiated; and 415ff for a discussion of the centrality ofsex differences in sociobiology.) She concludes from these casestudies that it is a lack of empirical success that makes scientificwork bad—not necessarily socio-political values that do so. Herholistic view of evidence allows us to see that the androcentricassumptions made by scientists and revealed by feminist sciencestudies are not baseless; they rest upon evidence which includescommonly held social assumptions about relations between the sexes(1993, 147). That feminists do not hold them is due in large part totheir perspective, a perspective arising from their shared response tocurrent “social experiences, relations, traditions, andhistorically and culturally specific ways of organizing sociallife” (1993, 147). For Nelson, the distinction between good andbad science is still based on traditional constitutive or epistemicvirtues including (though not limited to) empirical adequacy,explanatory power and predictive power.
Karin Blair, Sex and Star Trek, 10 Science Fiction Studies 292(November 1983).Thomas B. Byers, Kissing Becky: Masculine Fears and Misogynist Moments in ScienceFiction Films, 45 Arizona Quarterly 77 (Autumn 1989).Mary Jo Deegan, Sexism in Space: The Freudian Formula in Star Trek, in Erosin the Mind's Eye 209 (Donald Palumbo ed. 1986)(Contributions to the Study of ScienceFiction and Fantasy; 21).Anne Cranny Francis, Sexuality and Sex-Role Stereotyping in Star Trek,12 Science Fiction Studies 274 (November 1985).Nancy Steffen Fluhr, Women and the Inner Game of Don Siegel's Invasion of theBody Snatchers, 11 Science Fiction Studies 139 (July 1984).Andrew Gordon, The Power of the Force: Sex in the Star Wars Trilogy, inEros in the Mind's Eye 193 (Donald Palumbo ed. 1986)(Contributions to the Study ofScience Fiction and Fantasy; 21).Jim Holte, Pilgrims in Space: Puritan Ideology and the American Science FictionFilm, in Eros in the Mind's Eye 181 (Donald Palumbo ed. 1986)(Contributions tothe Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy; 21).Rebecca Bell Meterau, Woman: The Other Alien in Alien, in WomenWorldwalkers: New Dimensions of Science Fiction and Fantasy 9 (Jane B. Weedman ed.1985).Politics, gender, and the arts : women, the arts, and society (1992)(SusequehannaUniversity Studies).
In Nelson's empiricist holism, hypotheses, models and theoriesput forward in the sciences must be tested against relevant evidencewhere evidence includes the observational consequences of thehypothesis and a large set of theories within which the hypothesis isembedded, including common-sense theories. Thus, a hypothesis or modelin any branch of science is related to many, but not all, of ourcurrent theories. For Nelson, the evidence supporting a specific theory,hypothesis, or research program is of two types: observation, althoughnot the pre-theoretic observation of traditional empiricism, butrather observations already informed by background theory; and“a body of accepted standards and theory” which alsodiffer from the traditional empiricist account in that they areinformed by social beliefs and values (1996, 100). This account isempiricist and holist inasmuch as it states that evidence isconstituted by observation and by theories which themselves aresupported by evidence and by other theories. Yet the holism here isrelatively modest in that evidence for a hypothesis includes theobservational consequences of many, but not all, current theories,metaphysical assumptions, methods, standards and practices (1996,101).
(It was the lead essay in the March 1999 special issue on "Queer Theory.") Working in a recent conceptual tradition most famously exemplified by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Judith Butler—but with her own distinctive voice—Hollinger argues that feminism and the study of gender can be compromised by a conformist essentialism unless informed by a properly "queer" perspective.