Author's School

University College

Author's Department/Program

Liberal Arts


English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Chair and Committee

J. Andrew Brown


C.: Catherine) L.: Lucille) Moore, one of the earliest female science fiction writers, is widely regarded by SF writers, editors, and fans as one of the field’s most influential founding mothers, with female SF writer Marion Zimmer Bradley claiming Moore as the "mother" of all women who write science fiction. Yet, feminist science fiction criticism has yet to embrace its "mother" fully, and mainstream SF critics have not yet conducted general studies of Moore's work. In some circles, Moore's "value" to SF criticism and genre histories seems limited to Moore's ability to serve as a symbol for what are believed to be the "intimidated" and "imitative" female pulp SF writer of the 30's. These female authors are thought to have "passed" as male authors, either by cover of "male-sounding" bylines or by mimicking misogynistic conventions in their work. Moore's first text, "Shambleau": 1933), has in fact been used as an example of both conscious and unconscious mimicry, in the sense that critics have asserted that it confirms that Moore had internalized the "misogyny of her moment." Much SF criticism in this vein paints an unpleasant picture of Moore and her contemporaries, leaving one with the impression of female authors without agency, artistry, or self-awareness. This thesis examines the basis for this belief, as well as its consequences for both Moore and her fellow female pulp SF authors from the 30's. Further, an alternate "key" to Moore's science fiction: "Bright Illusion": 1934)) is offered as a means to generate new perspectives on Moore's work, as well as connect her SF to a central theme within mainstream SF: e.g., epistemology).


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