Practicing the Difference: Reading Luce Irigaray with Feminist Science Fiction is a practice-related PhD thesis that considers feminist science fiction as a methodology to approach the question of sexual difference raised by Luce Irigaray. 

As something that has not yet happened—the stubborn embodiment of that speculative potentiality of the “what if…?” which resists the lure of transcendence or universalised abstraction—the spectre of sexual difference continues to haunt ideas of feminist progress (Irigaray, 1996; Butler, 2004; Er, 2018).  This dense and difficult corpus also appears jarringly out of sync with intersectional, trans feminist, non-binary, and genderqueer accounts of sexual difference raised by her readers (Deutscher, 2002; Butler, 2004; Murphy, 2007; Salamon, 2010; Spivak, 2010; Johnston, 2015).  As such, I remain open to the generative possibilities of difference within Luce Irigaray’s writing, as well as embracing divergence from her thinking in feminist practice.

My practice-related research is animated by three key questions: 
1)      Can reading Luce Irigaray with feminist science fiction allow her philosophy of sexual difference to be thought differently?
2)      How can this different thinking be put into practice?
3)      What can practicing the difference offer to future feminist movement?  

In response, I engage feminist SF as an imaginative methodology (Lefanu, 1988; Rieder, 2010); drawing out qualities that constitute the genre—thought experiment, worldbuilding, defamiliarization, fan activity, sense of wonder—to ‘practice that difference’ which is so vital to the Irigarayan project (Irigaray [1977] 1985:159). 

Moving from reading and writing through painting, animating, and other ways of making and making public, this thesis locates Luce Irigaray in the context of speculative feminist practice from the past—spanning SF, activism, theory, fandom, and art.  Revisioning these strange, provocative, and even failed texts as spaces in which more generative responses can proliferate, I posit practicing the difference as a way of engaging critically and creatively with the philosophy of sexual difference.

Extracts from Practicing the Difference, practice-related PhD thesis, 2022

︎ Access the thesis via UCL Discovery  

Practicing the Difference: Reading Luce Irigaray with Feminist Science Fiction was completed in 2022.  This practice-related research was supervised by Prof Sharon Morris and Dr Hayley Newman at Slade School of Fine Art, University College London.  The thesis was examined by Dr Mo Throp and Dr Melanie Jackson. 

This research was made possible by a studentship award from the London Arts & Humanities Partnership—Arts & Humanities Research Council, with additional support for research visits to WisCon40 and the University of Oregon Special Collections and University Archive, and the 8th Conference of The Irigaray Circle.


    ︎   ︎