Proposal: Russ and Delany on Intersectionality and Art

In the UO Special Collections, there is a lot of correspondence between Joanna Russ and Samuel R. Delany. Delany played a large part in developing Russ’ understanding of her own sexuality and power as a woman. Between the two of them are multiple letters that talk about what it means to be an artist, especially a non-heterosexual and/or female artist.

Because of the way that the special collections has collected the letters of these authors, I will primarily be looking at letters that Delany sent to Russ. I will use these letters to try and dissect themes that crop up in Russ’s stories. Although it is extremely presumptuous to assume complete understanding of any causation between an outside force and an artist’s output, I believe that the friendship between these two authors was so strong that I can point to its effects on Russ’ writings.

I was initially drawn to this project through my own love of Delany’s work and interest in his life. When I found out that the UO Special Collections had boxes and boxes of his letters to an author we would be looking at this term, I was excited to get my hands on tangible pieces of his life. I’m excited to take an even closer look at this ephemera to better understand how Delany related to the novels we’ll be looking at in class. If I can uncover that he had any influence on the writing by one of the genre’s main authors, I’ll consider this final project to be a resounding success.

Planned Bibliography:

Joanna Russ Papers, Boxes 3 and 4, Coll 261, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Or.

Delany, Samuel R. The Motion of Light in Water: Sex and Science Fiction Writing in the East Village, 1957-1965. New York: Arbor House/W. Morrow, 1988. Print.

Delany, Samuel R. Trouble on Triton: An Ambiguous Heterotopia. [Middletown, Conn.]: Wesleyan UP, 1996. Print.

Russ, Joanna. The Adventures of Alyx. London: Women’s, 1985. Print.

Russ, Joanna. The Female Man. Boston: Beacon, 1986. Print.

Russ, Joanna. The Two of Them. New York: Berkley Pub. : Distributed by Putnam, 1978. Print.

One response to “Proposal: Russ and Delany on Intersectionality and Art

  • cstabile

    I’m so glad that you’re focusing on Russ and Delany! Instead of demonstrating that Delany influenced Russ (or vice versa) — they were huge influences on one another — perhaps you might focus on what that influence looked like and how they understood what it meant to be queer writers (if indeed that was a word that they used in the correspondence) against the backdrop of race, sexuality, and gender. I’m eager to see what you find in the archives!

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