New Perspectives on the Female Fantastic


Since Ann Richter coined the term “fantastique féminin” in 1977, many works in different languages have postulated a “female” way of writing fantastic texts, depending on the selection of themes, language, characters, supernatural elements, and the portrayal of the uncanny and the monstrous. This claim on the existence of a "female fantastic" reflects central issues in Feminist Literary Theory: on the one hand, the will to identify an aesthetic mode opposed to the dominant patriarchal discourse (female writing, the use of specific themes, etc.); on the other hand, the argument that there are marginal genres, forms and styles voluntarily removed from the central canon (this would also apply to the fantastic written by men). This article offers a review of the theoretical viability of the main works on this subject to show how most of them define the fantastic in terms of recurring themes that, paradoxically, tend to also appear in the works of male authors. Much more productive and more viable from a theoretical point of view is to study the "feminist fantastic" (this is the central thesis of this article), given the tendency of a significant number of women writers to use the fantastic as an element of destabilization of cultural, ideological and political characteristics and values of patriarchy.