Thesis Theater: Jens Hieber, “Negotiated Symbiosis: Power, Identity, and Community in the Works of Octavia E. Butler” (Oct 2nd, 7pm Eastern)

I am pleased to announce that Signum University MA student Jens Hieber will present his thesis “Negotiated Symbiosis: Power, Identity, and Community in the Works of Octavia E. Butler,” and respond to questions from the audience in an interactive Thesis Theater. The discussion will be facilitated by Jens’ thesis supervisor–me! I have confessed before that I am a fan of Butler’s work, including some of her tips on writing and thoughts about her vampire novel, Fledgling. Jens’ work is an important consideration of a key theme in Butler’s work–an author who was one of the very few women Black science fiction authors in the 80s, 90s, and 00s.

You can click here to register.

Thesis Abstract: “Negotiated Symbiosis: Power, Identity, and Community in the Works of Octavia E. Butler”

Octavia Butler continually explores different versions of symbiosis, ranging from mutualistic to parasitic. In this range of relationships, one side is clearly more human than the other, and through negotiating their survival and benefits, Butler emphasizes certain traits of humanity that force her characters to go beyond viewing themselves as only individuals and into an acceptance of hybridity. Through symbiosis, these relationships allow Butler to explore her self-professed interest in power dynamics, the fraught process of identity deconstruction and reconstruction, and concerted insistence on building hybridized community. By laying out these tendencies through one of Butler’s more well-studied stories “Bloodchild” and some less-explored works in “Amnesty” and Fledgling, my project seeks to illuminate how Butler uses negotiated symbiosis to give her characters shared power; construct fluid, cyborg identities; and build other-centered, hybridized community.

About the Presenter

Jens Hieber is a high school English teacher from Germany, working at an international school in Malaysia. His fascination with all things speculative fiction informs his studies, reading, teaching, and creative writing. Someday, he hopes to release his fiction upon the world. He lives on the island of Penang with his wife, two cats, and an assortment of tropical fish.

About Signum Thesis Theaters

Our graduate students write a thesis at the end of their degree program, exploring a topic of their choice. The Thesis Theatre is where they can present their thesis to the Signum community and wider public, enabling them to explain their research in detail, and respond to questions from the audience.

About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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