Irene Morrison

B.A. in English, Buffalo State College
M.A. in English, University of Buffalo

Research Areas:

Utopian Studies, Postcolonial Theory, Science & Technology Studies, Feminist & Queer Theory

Research Interests:

My academic interests are primarily in the field of utopian studies, specifically utopian literature and real-world utopian ideologies. I seek to understand how and why the Western concept of utopia is coterminous with colonialism, and the roles that science and technology (also coterminous with colonial expansion) play in utopian ideology. If utopia is a literature of colonialism, how can postcolonial theory both challenge and re-envision utopia? One key to this re-envisioning must be an examination of the science and technology used both in the service of colonial expansion and in utopian literature and ideologies. This work at the literary level includes the utopian rhetoric of cyberspace as seen in cyberpunk works like William Gibson’s Neuromancer, and other technologically advanced critical utopias like Samuel Delany’s Triton. It seems that without a critical examination of the inherent utopian rhetoric of technology (that it will save us from ourselves, make us immortal) and how this rhetoric bleeds into our utopian imagination, utopia is destined to fail, as it has for example with Zionism—a utopian project that relies on farming technology in an anarchist framework (the kibbutz), but also technologies of surveillance and war to oppress others.

This work has evolved from my Masters thesis on Ursula K. Le Guin’s feminist science fiction novel, The Dispossessed. Using feminist and anarchist theorists including Maria Mies, Vandana Shiva, and Noam Chomsky, I explored the political theory behind the anarchist planet Annares, as well as the allegorical significance of the Earth-like twin planet, Urras. Anarres is an “ambiguous utopia,” and provides a wealth of ideas and challenges to traditional anarchist theory, while marrying feminist and environmentalist concepts with anarchist ones in provocative ways.

Recent Activity:

Conference Papers –

“Inking Resistance: Plath’s ‘The Fifteen Dollar Eagle’ and Plath Tattoos.” Pacific Ancient and Modern Languages Association. Riverside, CA. September 2014.

“Queer Cyborgs: Technologies of Queerness in New Wave SF.” World Science Fiction Convention. London, UK. August 2014.

“Making Gender Trouble in New Wave SF: Samuel Delany’s ‘Aye, and Gomorrah…'” (dis)junctions Graduate Conference. UC Riverside, Riverside, CA. April 2014.

Departmental & University Service –

Recording Secretary, UAW 2865 Riverside. (2014-Present)