Lost Worlds and the (Un)Natural History of Gender
- 175 Downloads
The isolated settings of the island, plateau, or valley were crucial to evolutionary theory , for they illustrated variations of known species and genera from forms formerly assumed to be immutable; through their difference, they provided evidence for the universality of natural processes. In a comparable combination of exception and rule, the lost worlds of speculative fiction provided the means to interrogate the natural history of species forms and systems of social organization, particularly regarding gender. In this chapter I show how the lost-world fictions of Mary Bradley Lane, Arthur Conan Doyle , and Charlotte Perkins Gilman imagined alternate histories of gender as corrective of the aberrant relations between men and women that the conjunction of modern civilization and evolutionary processes produced.