Ms. Russ & Horror


Lesson: this is what happens when you complain about something to generally nice people — you get asked to share your opinion, too. I commented on Ms. Magazine‘s initial post on Joanna Russ’ passing by expressing my disappointment that the piece was so cursory and written by someone who said she didn’t really read the genre (always distressing). So here’s my piece:

When Joanna Russ Changed Us

May 15, 2011 by K. A. Laity · Leave a Comment

Michele Kort’s vivid remembrance of Joanna Russ (who died April 29) based on a single encounter with Russ’s short story “When it Changed” is a testament to just how far this woman’s influence continues to spread. Few have come away from reading Russ without a strong opinion. Ideas she posed as many as 30 years ago—a world without men, kick-ass action heroines, feminist romance—continue to vex and inspire us.

The Russ’s unflaggingly popular novel The Female Man and its development of the world known as Whileaway—a place devoid of men for centuries—will long be part of her fame. This imagined future is an agrarian reverie filled with hard work but little advanced technology beyond the ability to merge ova to make babies. People tend to refer to Whileaway as “utopian” but I doubt that Russ would agree. Simple answers never suited her….

Read the rest at Ms.

Today I begin the summer intensive,  Three Weeks of Terror — or a sort of abbreviated history of the horror film. It’s always a bit of a breathless run which tantalises more than it teaches, I fear. As a boot camp in the genre, at the very least it usually introduces the students to films they’ve not seen and a way of looking at familiar films that makes them completely new. It also funds my travels in England for June, so whoo hoo! Doubtless I will have much to say about the class in the coming days.