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Leckie’s “Ancillary Justice”: Sci-Fi, Gothic, and Queer Theory

Topic Overview

Each of the pieces in Leckie’s “Ancillary Justice” investigates and broadens the critical connotations of both the labels “queer” and “Gothic.” Queering the Gothic is a genre of writing about queerness and Gothicism. With works ranging from the first wave of eighteenth-century and Romantic Gothic fiction to nineteenth-century fiction and modern novels such as Will Self’s Dorian and Poppy Brite’s Lost Souls, the selection of texts demonstrates how commonly the queer Gothic will not always be found in the places we expect it to be found (Kupferman et al., 243). In turn, Leckie’s book introduces a critical lens to the subject matter, connecting Gothic and the Queer Theory.

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In her book “Ancillary Justice,” Leckie explores the Queer Theory is a literary and cultural approach that rejects standard definitions of sexuality and gender in favor of a more inclusive view of the world. Specifically, Leckie points out that queer criticism has always been intrigued with the Gothic, but since Gothic texts were always fascinated with the “queer,” to the point where the genre can be intuitively read as something that is dedicated, in no minor part, to talking about the “queerness” that strikes at the core of cultural production. Thus, Leckie connects the concepts in question, arguing that discursive space is occupied by issues of difference, otherness, marginality, and the culturally created limits between what is normal and what is abnormal, much like queer theory.

Leckie’s “Ancillary Justice” posits that the queerness of Gothic literature is so deeply embedded that it creates a queer philosophy of its own. Indeed, the Gothic-ness of Queer Theory is so automatic that the latter frequently becomes a genre of Gothic fiction. This chapter analyzes that interaction by first illustrating how Gothic literature gives birth to queer theory and then reacting with the ways inside which queer theory relies on the Gothic. Examples come from Gothic masterpieces ranging from The Castle of Otranto to Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Haunting of Hill House. Also studied carefully are theoretical assertions by Sedgwick, Freccero, Edelman, and Muñoz. At the core, this chapter raises and starts responses to two major questions: The question that the author poses is what in the fundamental Gothic motifs makes things largely synonymous queer.

Introduction: Queering the Gothic

Something more widespread and, at times, enigmatic than sexual identity serves as the foundation of the queer Gothic. More than that, it goes beyond the campiness that Gothic is so closely correlated with critical discourse. The opening chapters of Leckie’s “Ancillary Justice” provide a high-level analysis of the main notions that will be discussed in greater depth in the following chapters. Therefore, these chapters set the foundation for the analysis of the current perceptions of gender roles and their ostensible connection to maleness and femaleness.

The book examines Frankenstein’s involvement with sexual propaganda in the early nineteenth century, drawing on a critical trend of urges between men as a starting point. Specifically, it investigates some of the ways wherein the meant to signify practices of queerness are authored into the language, as well as some of the ways in which the symbolizing procedures of Gothic fiction are authored into the language as discussed by (Palusci et al., 2020, pp. 8-9). Moreover, it investigates how female writers have used mythical creatures and vampires to explore ‘subversive’ sexual orientations such as lesbianism.

Gender Roles Within the Queer Theory

Leckie’s “Ancillary Justice” also provides a rather thoughtful insight into the concept of gender norms. According to Leckie, gender norms are defined by research as ‘a subset of social norms that indicate how members of a specific gender are expected to act in a particular social environment. Gender norms often foster gender inequality and place severe constraints on actions and behaviors. Male/female or masculine/feminine binaries are often used to define gender norms. In turn, Queer Theory experts have produced beliefs that gender is fluid and changeable, as Leckie explains. For instance, Judith Butler contends that gender is performative, that it exists via performance. Butler contends that gender is not an inherent identity inside us but rather a result of our actions and those of others in society.

According to Leckie, gender reality is performative, meaning it is only real to the degree that it is acted. The specified stance adds an important element of criticism to Leckie’s analysis. ‘The interactional process of building gender identities that are said to reflect and organically originate from biology.’ Gender is conducted with respect to gender norms – either in accordance with or against them.

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With ancillary justice for the case of the story, the narrator’s native language does not use gender-specific pronouns. All the characters, whether female or male, are referred to using female pronouns, with therefore satisfies the queer theory.

The majority of societal programs, institutions, and laws presuppose that the majority of people are heterosexual. Through the development and societal structures and institutions, heterosexuality is normalized, naturalized, promoted, and favored over other sexualities. These concepts and institutions are included under the concept that Leckie defines as heteronormativity. Heteronormativity asserts that there are only two sexes that are binary polar opposites and that the best form of sexuality is contact between these two ‘opposite sexes’. Similarly, cisnormativity presupposes and sustains the norm of cisgender (or normal). According to the existing studies, the binary gender worldview is heterosexist, emphasizing masculinity and straightness above femininity and queerness. The integration of the specified perspective allows Leckie’s “Ancillary Justice” to reinforce the need for said justice, therefore, justifying the plight of the marginalized community.

In Leckie’s book, gender performativity is the thesis that gender and gender roles are intricate social performances that one puts on in one’s day-to-day existence, the hegemonic forms of which underpin common perceptions of “man”/”masculine” and “woman”/”feminine.“

Identity is frequently misunderstood as an entrenched, one-sided reality (Leckie, 106). A thin line between two socially manufactured hierarchies, which Judith Butler seeks to dismantle. Butler investigates the existing power arrangements. Trying to figure out how “gendered” detections were nurtured by existing power structures. Butler seeks to link cultural expectations with our portrayal of “gender.” Therefore, the book maintains the focus on the existing power structures, which introduces particular strength to the argument.

Queer Theory and Gender Performativity

Gender performativity is the thesis that gender and gender roles are intricate social performances that one puts on in one’s day-to-day existence, the hegemonic forms of which underpin common perceptions of “man”/”masculine” and “woman”/”feminine.“

Identity is frequently misunderstood as an entrenched, one-sided reality (Leckie, 106). So often placed on the pedestal of “traditional thinking,” following a single notion. A thin line between two socially manufactured hierarchies, which Judith Butler seeks to dismantle. Butler investigates the existing power arrangements. Trying to figure out how “gendered” detections were nurtured by existing power structures. Butler’s works, such as Performative Acts, Gender-Constitution, and Gender Trouble, attempt to create a philosophical solution to the question of what gendered oppositions really are. Butler seeks to link cultural expectations with our portrayal of “gender.”

Gender

Analyzing from a queer perspective has the ability to weaken the underlying structure about which any identity depends (albeit it does this without entirely destroying or discarding notions of identity). The concept has been perceived to be merely about concerns about sexuality. The perception of gender theory as the theory of sexuality has been addressed by adopting an interdisciplinary analysis that begins out with the premise that sexuality cannot be divorced from the other different types of social status and identification. This permits queer theory to become multidisciplinary, and so generate new ways of thinking on how sexuality influences and is influenced by other aspects.

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Masculine vs. Feminine

Gender has always been a prominent subject in speculative fiction. However, little attention as have been drawn to it until Leckie’s work, which makes “Ancillary Justice” especially powerful. The genres that comprise speculative fiction, such as science fiction, fantasy, paranormal fiction, horror, superhero fiction, and science fantasy, as well as related types of music (utopian and post-apocalyptic fiction), have always provided writers with an opportunity to examine social conventions, such as gender, gender roles, and gender beliefs (Leckie, 107). As with other literary genres, science fiction reflects common conceptions of the times in which its founders wrote, as well as their reactions to gender preconceptions and gender roles. Numerous authors have decided to write without challenging gender conventions, successfully mirroring their own culturally gendered roles onto their fictional universe. However, many other authors have opted to analyze societal standards, notably gender roles, using science fiction and other non-realistic styles.

Science Fiction Vs. Queer

Science fiction is centered on projected future scientific or technical advancements and significant environmental or social changes, typically depicting space or teleportation and life on other planets (Broersma, 4-7). However, Leckie adds a new dimension to the discourse, pointing out that Given science fiction’s capacity for examining modern reality and its possibilities via the lens of the future, one may believe the genre is suitable for the investigation of alternate sexualities. Science fiction critics have largely agreed that it is a ‘literature of ideas.’ However, Leckie points to a flaw in the specified argument, clearly articulating that sexuality is also an abstract concept. In this way, one may reasonably anticipate inherent compatibility between science fiction as a genre and the study of human sexuality. However, for many individuals, sexuality and especially heteronormativity can be imagined solely in terms of the ‘natural.’ To these folks, sexuality is not an abstract concept; it is the polar opposite of the abstract.

Lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, or transsexual (LGBT) themes are prevalent in speculative fiction, including science fiction, fantasy, horror, and allied genres. These characteristics may include a protagonist or the main character that is LGBT, as well as studies of sexuality or gender that differ from the heteronormative. Numerous renowned works of science fiction, like “Ancillary Justice,” have long had sizable LGBTQ+ fan communities.

Instinctual, sensational, and animalistic. It is both ‘common sense,’ as in the seeming logic of sexual intercourses, and unfathomable, since even obviously procreative sex involves emotions, postures, acts, and wants with the possibility for perversity, even if it is only the perversity of pleasure. And yet, even for these individuals, sex is a concept, as it is an ideology that current Western civilizations have worked so hard to disseminate and govern.

Science Fiction Vs. Gothic

The relationship between space opera and the Gothic is not just because technological development is often terrifying but also because it compels confrontation with a side of human nature that the majority of people would want to forget. This relationship dates all the way back to the first fictional book, “Ancillary Justice” (Broersma, 6). The thematic problems depicted in Leckie’s novel, especially the themes of people’s capacity to manage technology and science, echo the issue of identity and related struggles. Science fiction provides an enormous amount of leeway for writers to examine human nature, as “Ancillary Justice” shows. As a result, the two genres work well together.

One mind-controlling pile of the dead has become a reality in the Radch empire. It pervades its culture, ideas, assumptions, and technological operations. Anaander Mianaai is a secular humanist dream situation, but planets and spacecraft have also gained awareness. Not just any ships but the imperial military vessels: justices, mercy, and swords. The conquered, particularly those unhappy with their newfound allegiance, were transformed into ‘body-slaves’: hibernated spare components for the warships’ AIs.

This scene brings the Gothic part as it relates to science fiction. That said, can you remember a scene that also brings the scientific gothic action?

Science Fiction Queer Problems

Sci-fi has an issue with lesbian and gay protagonists. This is particularly true of television science fiction, but the print is just as culpable, and the majority of sci-fi games are testosterone-fueled head-stomping exercises. For a genre of literature founded on picturing worlds weirder than and at odds with our own, it seems a fairly blatant oversight that the great majority of its novels ignore the minority parts of human sexual identity.

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That shock will be familiar to readers who are gay, lesbian, transgender, or otherwise non-heterosexual. It is the sense of community, of being acknowledged as a necessary, everyday component of society, regardless of how little.

Conclusion

The relationship between speculative fiction and the Gothic is not just because technological development is often terrifying but also because it compels confrontation with aspects of human nature that the majority of people would want to forget. Queer theory is a perspective through which to examine and critique the ways in which researchers, activists, creative works, and the media perpetuate gender- and sex-based binaries, with the objective of dismantling hierarchies and combating social inequities. Gothic Queer Culture delves into the tangible consequences of marginalization, exclusion, and violence, illuminating why the discourse on the intricacies of genders and sexualities often returns to the gothic.

Westengard situates this queer knowledge creation within the broader context of gothic queerness, which includes theoretical writings, art, literature, performing, and popular culture. By examining queer knowledge production in conjunction with other kinds of queerness, Gothic Queer Culture contributes to contemporary discussions about the condition of gender and sexuality, particularly those centered on negativity, generally pro, assimilation, and capitalism. It establishes a context for understanding these debates within a distinctively gothic-based culture mode that acknowledges conflict and pernicious trauma, depathologizes the affiliation between injury and queerness, and provides a rich, challenging behavior cultural aesthetic through the vasculature of gothic tropes.

References

Broersma, A. Challenging Dualisms through Science Fiction: A Close Reading of the Colonized and Gendered Identity and Body in Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice. BS thesis. 2018.

Kupferman, David W., and Andrew Gibbons, eds. Childhood, Science Fiction, and Pedagogy: Children Ex Machina. Springer, 2019.

Palusci, Oriana. “Introduction: Gendering Science Fiction: The Inclusive Bodies of Tomorrow.” Introduction: Gendering Science Fiction: The Inclusive Bodies of Tomorrow (2020): 4-9.

Ringer, Laurie. “Entangled States: Putting affect theory into play with Nnedi Okorafor and Ann Leckie.” PCA: Meeting of the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association. 2018.

Leckie, Ann. Justicia Auxiliar, 2013. Print.

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StudyCorgi. "Leckie’s “Ancillary Justice”: Sci-Fi, Gothic, and Queer Theory." January 14, 2023. https://studycorgi.com/leckies-ancillary-justice-sci-fi-gothic-and-queer-theory/.

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StudyCorgi. 2023. "Leckie’s “Ancillary Justice”: Sci-Fi, Gothic, and Queer Theory." January 14, 2023. https://studycorgi.com/leckies-ancillary-justice-sci-fi-gothic-and-queer-theory/.

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