The IUP Journal of English Studies
Feminist Utopian Consciousness vis-a-vis Dystopian Speculative Vision

Article Details
Pub. Date : June, 2020
Product Name : The IUP Journal of English Studies
Product Type : Article
Product Code : IJES32020
Author Name : Vandana Sharma
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : Arts & Humanities
Download Format : PDF Format
No. of Pages : 07



Though there is a slew of critiques on women's visions of utopia/ dystopia as a systematic worldview (in which gender, body, sexuality, culture, environment, technology, psychology, and belief are entangled) that takes diverse generic forms, this paper aims to map out the shift from utopian vision to dystopian paradox, which demolishes old certainties in favor of a new, and sometimes, perhaps, a more disconcerting vision of a feminist future as portrayed in Manjula Padmanabhan's Escape. While there is a tremendous amount of significant research linking the recent trends in contemporary feminist theorizing about how and why events, practices, knowledge(s), and texts are forms of expression of patriarchal power relations, there are very few studies which enable some understanding of the transformative potential as well as the ideological blind spots of this utopianism. This paper aims to address these issues through simultaneously close and contextualized readings of Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain's Sultana's Dream (1905) and Padmanabhan's Escape (2008).


The emerging canon of feminist dystopian literature reflects a growing preoccupation among writers, who not only champion the cause of women's rights but also exhibit the ambient fear that progress toward equality between the sexes has been stalled or may be reversed. The concept of utopia, with its Greek pun on a good place (ou-topos) and no-place (eu-topos), offers a simultaneous paradox, an ideal yet beyond reach. But insofar as it is a place or world that has been imagined, it provides a glimpse of the entire spectrum and scope of human imagination as far as the existence of alternate better is concerned. The utopian imagination represents hope and freedom, just as feminist thought reinforces reform and amelioration. What is significant here is that both feminism and utopia focus on the causes rather than on the purpose in end. Rajan (2015) aptly avers that feminism is 'non-teleological in its philosophy and praxis . . . is ameliorative rather than oppositional in its politics; and it questions established value-systems rather than proposes alternative ones."


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