Friday, July 29, 2011


I've been teaching Octavia Butler's short story, "Bloodchild," which is a curious thing, like all of her work. I've taught it a number of times before, mostly in the context of my modern slavery class, but this time, it's in a class about child narrators/protagonists. Of course, the child protagonist in this story adds one more stomach-turning twist to the thing, in a story in which there are ready a number of elements designed to make us slightly queasy.
There is really hardly anything written about this story or most of her other work--not even Kindred, her first novel, which I am surprised has not been turned into a film. But it too has those elements, lurking in the background, so that the character who is taken back into time ends up falling in love with her own great, great, grandfather, the slave owner who has tormented her and made her act as a pimp to get her great, great grandmother to sleep with him and start the line that will lead to her.
I thought perhaps I should be the one to write about her work, and take these taboo issues on. I think the only way to do it would be to examine those elements in several of the books, especially the trilogy she wrote in which humans and aliens interbreed and become an entirely new species.
I will probably not have the time to do it, but it would be interesting, and perhaps would garner a bit of attention from the lit departments of local Universities if I could pull it off and get it published.


marly youmans said...

I'd say there is a good bit of interest in Octavia Butler.

Why not send a proposal out? I'd suggest MonkeyBrain Books as one place to try (

They do nonfiction genre studies.

Robbi said...

Okay. I'm not sure this publisher would impress the extremely snobbish mavens at UCI, but perhaps CSU would be less picky? I don't know about Chapman. It depends on whether they hired me to teach lit or creative writing.
I have a lot of reading to do. I'm sure I've barely scratched the surface of queer theory commentary and dissertations on Butler, but I haven't been able to find much in the general databases.
It's hard to say when I'll have time to do this, but it would be a good thing if I managed.