Old woman and the sea: Evolution and the feminine aquatic

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A curious sympathy between second-wave feminism and evolutionary theory forged a powerful connection between women and the sea. Speculative nonfiction by Elaine Morgan rewrote humanity’s evolutionary past to be more fluid and more feminist in her Descent of Woman (1972). Later fiction—including Kurt Vonnegut’s Galápagos (1985) and biologist Joan Slonczewski’s A Door into Ocean (1986)—posited alternative futures in which long association with the ocean resulted in the evolution of new forms of biological and social order. The elusive boundary between science and fiction in these narratives highlights both the moral authority of nature and the subversive connotations of the aquatic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-215
Number of pages18
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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