About Femspec

Femspec, a peer-reviewed journal,  develops communities speculating, theorizing, creating and questioning gender across boundaries, including issues of sexual orientation and interdisciplinary approaches. We encourage work on teaching as well as literary/cultural criticism and creative material. We are inclusive of ethnic and cultural diversity in an internationalist perspective and are committed to publishing experimental feminist prose and poetic works and experiments across media. Our impetus came from the collectively perceived lack of attention to SF, fantasy, magical realism and supernatural works in feminist journals and audiences; the lack of consistently evolving developed levels of feminism in SF criticism; and the inadequacy of magical realism publishing outlets in the U.S.

A Brief Herstory

The editorial group grew out of a concern of the dominance of realism in journals that published feminist literary criticism or creative works. A group of us decided to found our own journal, the first issue of which appeared in September 1999; in the process of which, our organization grew. Our impetus came from the collectively perceived lack of attention to science fiction, fantasy, magical realism and supernatural works in feminist journals and audiences; the lack of consistently developed levels of feminism in science fiction criticism; and the inadequacy of magical realist publishing outlets and forums in the United States. The first issue was well-received. Since then, the founding editor-in-chief, Batya Weinbaum, was offered a position teaching Multicultural Literature at Cleveland State University, where the journal was housed for five years. Subsequently she went on to take other positions at Pacifica Graduate Institute, East Carolina University, and SUNY-Empire State College-Center for Distance Learning, where she taught for nine years. She has been teaching primarily at the American Public University System since 2013; the journal has been surviving independent of university support, on its own, which is why your donations and subscriptions are most welcome.

Encouraging Cooperation of Diverse Groups

The journal has a multicultural focus, with theme issues on speculative works by African American women, Native American women's speculative art and writing, speculative writing by Jewish women, and a girls issue as well as an issue on SF film and reproductive technology. We have collected and printed articles on Asian American women's writing, Latina magical realism, and Jewish women's magical realism. We have also offered original translations of non-real writings of Mexican and Israeli women, and exclusive interviews with writers and artists from Indonesia, Mexico, Israel and Portugal.

The editing group is diverse in terms of race, ethnicity and age, including emeritus scholars, SF fans, creative writers and critics in various fields at an array of universities in the US and internationally. We advertise through MELUS, the Journal of the Society of Multiethnic Literature of the United States; Journal of Research on Mothering; Meridians; SF Studies; Extrapolation; Foundation; and other venues to attract diverse groups of women who otherwise would not come into contact with each other.

The first issue of our bi-annual publication included the writings of two African Americans, and we have a regular girls' feature where we publish writings about girls' literature or writing by girls. Girls' art also appeared in the first issue. We also have salons and readings at bookstores, and at conferences such as National Women's Studies, Popular/American Culture, and International Association for Fantasy in the Arts. On particular issues, such as the Native issue, we work with women from special constituencies such as Rachael Whitehawk Day of the North American Cultural Center.

Organizational Structure

The founding editor and editor-in-chief work with an Advisory Board with artists and scholars such as Suzy Charnas and Pamela Sargeant. In addition, contributing editors Marleen Barr, Samuel Delany, and Darko Suvin are quite active as well as an editorial board of people who primarily act as reviewers, that currently stands at about ten. In addition, there are special editors in charge of developing their own issues, who may or may not be on the Board.

Policy- and Decision-Making

Decisions are made through discussion on our editorial listserv, meet-ups at conferences,  phone and SKYPE conferences with the managing editor, associates and production team members. 

Measuring Success

Success of Femspec is gauged as follows: By the positive response of people involved over the first years; by the expressed positive experience of women and minority students who have volunteered, interned or worked on the journal and ask for extended participation for more credit or more hours in subsequent semesters; by the success in fundraising from other universities and individuals who have contributed to the journal including University of Southern California, University of Texas at Dallas, Oakland University, State University of New York at Stonybrook; by the increased number of submissions; by the willingness of esteemed scholars to give us their work; by the willingness of authors and publishers to send us review copies; by authors’ willingness to revise and resubmit according to our production schedule; by the volunteered time of scholars even in their sabbatical year to work on fundraising and grants; by the interest of local bookstores in hosting events; by the positive media coverage we got, for example, in the Cleveland paper the Plain Dealer, The Free Times, Magazines for Libraries, and in campus newspapers such as On CampusThe Vindicator, and The Cleveland Stater; and by some of the following responses:

“The first issue of FEMSPEC … exceeded my expectations! It is gorgeous and excellent.”
—Oregon Writer

“A striking first issue of an exciting new journal.”
—Karen Schneider, Western Kentucky Univ.

“Lively.”
—John Crawford, West End Press

“What an artifact.”
—Carol Stevens, Society for Utopian Studies

“An amazing thing here.”
—Marleen S. Barr, Sci-fi Critic

“I absolutely LOVE it!!!”
—Patricia Melzer, Clark University

“Refreshing-finally making a place in academia for such things.”
—Theresa Crater, Metro. State College of Denver

“The issue looks beautiful!”
—Christina Springer, Phila. Performance Poet

Where to Find Femspec

  • We are recommended on LitWomen. Here's an excerpt from their review: “The editorial board includes some of feminism's most radical, visionary, and critical thinkers and writers … Overall, this journal covers an important area of literature and thought often overlooked in feminist scholarship … FEMSPEC is definitely worth the attentions of those who look to these genres for feminist vision.”

  • We are part of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Database, an on-line, searchable compilation by topic and author. The Database is an inclusive tool, designed to cover all aspects of science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural, and weird fiction.

  • Based upon the recommendation of Magazines for Libraries, since January 2004 we have been included in Humanities Full TextHumanities Abstracts and Humanities IndexHumanities Full Text is cited as “the most comprehensive resource available in its field.” It supplies readers with the full text of articles plus abstracts and bibliographic indexing of scholarly sources.

  • Our table of contents is listed in Feminist Periodicals: A Current Listing of Contents, published by The University of Wisconsin System.

  • Femspec's calls for submissions have been prominently listed in various locations such as the University of Pennsylvania's History Journal News, University of Maryland's Diversity Database, the Network of East-West Women, the University of Minnesota's Voices from the Gap: Women Writers of Color, Bucknell College's ListProc, the University of Toronto Cquest, Rutgers University's Howz Updates, Michigan State University's Jewish Studies newsletter, Callihoo's newsletter (a weekly writers' group in Salt Lake City), Queer-E (an electronic message board), Queer TheoryNews Notes: E-Publication for the Society for the Study of Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States, Chora: A Community for Emerging Feminist Scholars, University of Dundee, Narrative Alchemy (a newsletter in Finnish), Speculations and The Multicultural Advantage.

  • Femspec's web page has been linked from numerous sites, including The SF SiteFeminist Science Fiction, Fantasy and Utopia, an Association for Research on Pop Culture, as well as the German-language sites: Feministische and Gender Forum. Other sites where we have been listed are on the Council of Editors of Learned Journals, Extrapolation (a SF journal based at Kent State University), Gayellow PagesSF3 (Society for the Furtherance and Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy), the International Center for Women Playwrights, the Cleveland Women's on-line calendar, and Women's Print Periodicals on the Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press.

  • We have exhibited at conferences such as Pop Culture and National Women's Studies, and served on panels with other editors and publishers from Greenwood, Feminist Teacher, Women's Studies Quarterly, and NWSA Journal.

  • Our advertisements have appeared in journals such as Extrapolation, Journal of Popular Culture, Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering, MELUS, Frontiers, Science Fiction Studies, Paradoxa, the American Educational Studies Association, Off Our Backs, Women's Studies Quarterly, Women in French Studies, and Transformations.

  • We are listed as a resource on numerous Women's Studies web pages such as Clark University, the University of York, University of Wisconsin, DePauw University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

  • We appear in Gender Watch database, which brings the journal online as a Women's Studies resource at over 100 libraries.

  • We appear in EBSCO, GALE, HB Wilson, and ProQuest databases, which brings the journal online internationally to academic libraries.

  • Femspec is available at a reduced rate for members of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (www.iafa.highpoint.edu)

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