Arts and Entertainment: Interview with FEMSPEC editor Batya Weinbaum

Cauldron. March 19, 2001. p. 13
By Alexis Vaughn

Cauldron: What is FEMSPEC?

Dr. Weinbaum: A scholarly and creative journal that comes out twice a year, dedicated to critiquing gender through experiments with the unreal or speculative dimensions of art, literature and popular culture.

Cauldron: Where can you purchase it?

Dr.Weinbaum: In the office at RT 1832 or 1834; at Macs Backs on Coventry or by ordering from the publisher, CaddoGap@aol.com.

Cauldron: How is it connected to CSU?

Dr. Weinbaum: I currently teach at CSU, and negotiated some support at the time of hire for the journal that is included in my contact.

Cauldron: Is there a Website people can go to for more information?

Dr. Weinbaum: Yes, http://www.csuohio.edu/femspec. [Now http://www.femspec.org -- Ed.]

Cauldron: Can anyone submit to FEMSPEC?

Dr. Weinbaum: Yes.

Cauldron: What do students who take the FEMSPEC class at CSU do?

Dr. Weinbaum: This depends on what is happening that particular semester, their interest, our needs, size of the group etc.

This semester, the students have been focusing on promotion; they are also involved in setting up and running a creative writing contest for high school girls. They have been going to bookstores, and contacting Borders to try to get bookstore sales increased.

In previous classes, students have done fact checking, proofreading and set up. One even went to a popular culture convention in order to solicit manuscripts, and did a letter writing campaign requesting articles from possible presenters at the conference.

Some students have also been involved in manuscript review, and writing book reviews.

Cauldron: Can anyone take the class?

Dr. Weinbaum: Yes, but they have to come talk to me first and get my signature to make sure they know what is going on.

Cauldron: Is FEMSPEC exclusively for women?

Dr. Weinbaum: No. We have a male associate editor; men on our board, male contributing editors, and male students have worked in the office and taken the class.

We also publish male critical and creative authors, and critical articles about male books. The key is having some interest in the connection between the questioning of gender, and the use of speculative or ?nonreal? techniques in art, popular culture and literature.

Cauldron: When and how often does FEMSPEC publish?

Dr. Weinbaum: We publish twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring semester. Usually in December or May.

Cauldron: Are subscriptions available, and if so, how much are they?

Dr. Weinbaum: Subscriptions are $20 low income, $30 regular, $50 institutional or charter and $75 sustaining.

Cauldron: What is your personal involvement with FEMSPEC?

Dr. Weinbaum: It was my idea. I founded it, got people in the SF/Fantasy area of the Association of Popular Culture interested, found associate editors, put together the ed. Board, got the funding and support, found the publisher, built up the sub base, got advertisers, found the book review, poetry and fiction and critical and special issue editors.

Cauldron: What was the reason for starting this journal?

Dr. Weinbaum: Basically it was for the creation of a journal where people with feminist values were reading materials of feminist content, because the established genre journals in science fiction and fantasy were not necessarily reading article submissions from a feminist perspective.

Also, feminist literary journals were not reading submissions with sufficient comprehension of SF/ Fantasy as serious literature.

Additionally, experimental writing was often falling through the cracks as realism was the dominant mode in the publication of second wave feminist literature, and magical real or experimental or surreal or sci-fi did not get so well reviewed in feminist publications, out of a lack of understanding of those genres.

And many times the small feminist publishers would reject risk-taking manuscripts that weren?t straight, linear plot because they didn?t know how to market them. We wanted to prove that there was a market for this kind of writing (creative in this case) in the feminist world.

Many of the editors of the more experimental or magical real presses or magazines weren?t necessarily feminist at all, so this type of work was difficult to publish for feminist writers who were risk takers.