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Utopian visions of evolution and race in feminist fiction and activism: some preliminary reflections on Catherine Spence, Henrietta Dugdale and other late nineteenth-century Australian writers

Journal Article


Abstract


  • Building on international scholarship that has demonstrated the importance of utopian

    fiction within early western feminism, this article presents some preliminary reflections on

    the first two feminist utopian novels published in Australia, Henrietta Dugdale’s A

    Few Hours in a Far-off Age (1883) and Catherine Spence’s A Week in the Future

    (1888-9). While these novels are relatively well known as significant early feminist

    texts, they have not been the subject of any focussed scholarly analysis. Closer reading

    reveals that the feminist futures presented in these works were fundamentally based in

    evolutionary and proto-eugenic theories. Paradoxically, then, these visions relied on

    biological determinism. They also reflected a racially exclusive worldview. When situated

    alongside other feminist non-fictional writing and activism, these texts are thus

    particularly suggestive in terms of understanding how ‘race’ operated within Australian

    feminist thought and activism in this period.

Publication Date


  • 2012

Citation


  • Carey, J. L. (2012). Utopian visions of evolution and race in feminist fiction and activism: some preliminary reflections on Catherine Spence, Henrietta Dugdale and other late nineteenth-century Australian writers. Lilith: a feminist history journal, (17/18), 68-88.

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/1778

Number Of Pages


  • 20

Start Page


  • 68

End Page


  • 88

Issue


  • 17/18

Place Of Publication


  • Australia

Abstract


  • Building on international scholarship that has demonstrated the importance of utopian

    fiction within early western feminism, this article presents some preliminary reflections on

    the first two feminist utopian novels published in Australia, Henrietta Dugdale’s A

    Few Hours in a Far-off Age (1883) and Catherine Spence’s A Week in the Future

    (1888-9). While these novels are relatively well known as significant early feminist

    texts, they have not been the subject of any focussed scholarly analysis. Closer reading

    reveals that the feminist futures presented in these works were fundamentally based in

    evolutionary and proto-eugenic theories. Paradoxically, then, these visions relied on

    biological determinism. They also reflected a racially exclusive worldview. When situated

    alongside other feminist non-fictional writing and activism, these texts are thus

    particularly suggestive in terms of understanding how ‘race’ operated within Australian

    feminist thought and activism in this period.

Publication Date


  • 2012

Citation


  • Carey, J. L. (2012). Utopian visions of evolution and race in feminist fiction and activism: some preliminary reflections on Catherine Spence, Henrietta Dugdale and other late nineteenth-century Australian writers. Lilith: a feminist history journal, (17/18), 68-88.

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/1778

Number Of Pages


  • 20

Start Page


  • 68

End Page


  • 88

Issue


  • 17/18

Place Of Publication


  • Australia