Foreign Languages & Literatures ETDs

Publication Date



This thesis proposes a comparative study of Octavia E. Butlers Xenogenesis trilogy (1987-89), Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (1985), and the Alien series (1979-97). I argue that these three texts resist patriarchal oppression upon the female fertile body. I examine how they rewrite and subvert such institutions as motherhood, the family, and the heterosexual couple, in order to redefine and empower woman. In the first chapter, I argue that Octavia Butler rewrites Western origin stories in order to put woman and people of color at its center, which provokes a redefinition of the essential woman. In chapter two, I examine how Margaret Atwood criticizes both patriarchal and feminist ideologies in a satirical, pessimistic tale. She represents the patriarchal rule as absurd and makes reproduction ironically futile. In the final chapter, I demonstrate that the Alien series and in particular Alien: Resurrection (Dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 1997) represent patriarchy as a failure and empower the liminal woman.


feminism women science fiction Octavia Butler Margaret Atwood Alien series Ellen Ripley reproductive rights

Document Type




Degree Name

Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Committee Member (Chair)

Bishop, Stephen

Second Committee Member

Higgins, Scarlett