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This collection breaks new ground in the area of gender studies both because it creates a name for gender fantasy—virtual gender—that introduces a new understanding of the concept, and in expanding the idea of virtuality to include people and events in history. The essays in Virtual Gender help identify and name the persistent cultural desire for an imaginative space in which to "put on" alternative gender identities, while examining as well the equally persistent and consequent critique of that desire.
The sweep of the volume's coverage is impressive, ranging across historical periods and academic disciplines, as contributors consider the place of the body in gender fantasy and the consequences of gender fantasy for real people and real bodies. The essays investigate figures and topics including Amelia Earhart, soap-opera chat groups, Elizabeth I, mesmerism, lesbianism in the early modern period, cybergames, women in the federalist period, the transgendered body, and performance art. Also examined are the status of embodiment, the origins of gender, gender politics, the pains of subjectivity, the uses of utopian fantasy, technological advances and information technology, the experience of gendered communities, and the role of gender in global politics.
Contributors include Harriette Andreadis, Seyla Benhabib, Charlotte Canning, Bernice Hausman, Janel Mueller, Mary Ann O'Farrell, Kay Schaffer, Sidonie Smith, Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, Helen F. Thompson, Lynne Vallone, and Robyn Warhol. The book will appeal to an interdisciplinary audience of scholars, critics, and students with interests in gender, identity, and cyberculture.
Mary Ann O'Farrell is Associate Professor of English, Texas A& M University.
Lynne Vallone is Associate Professor of English, Texas A&M University.