Hope Is the New Punk: Politics Of Storytelling, Queerness and Marginalized Communities in Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (pp. 27-46)
Beatriz Hermida Ramos
Universidad de Salamanca
With the coining of Henry A. Giroux’s concept of ‘educated hope’, hopefulness has been defined by postcolonial and decolonial scholars as a survival strategy against vertical systems of power, and arguably, as a source of agency (2014, 38). Nevertheless, hope is not the only emotion or affect that has been theorized to be a political form of resistance. In 2016, Judith Butler explored the notion of ‘radical vulnerability’, arguing that it was vital for marginalized communities (that category referring to those who have been historically kept at the margins) to exercise it as a way to contest the cisheteropatriarchal and capitalist system. This article examines if these emotions and affects truly constitute an act of agency, and how they are intertwined with each other as well as with storytelling, because literature has been employed by ‘the other’ as a tactic to build places of contestation and subversion (Lorde, 2017, Walker, 1994). Moreover, this analysis will prove that the transformative capacities of storytelling are vital to the margins in a way that is unique to them and that is simultaneously connected with the ideas of community and vulnerability, due to their subaltern positioning. In order to do so, I will focus on the literary genre of ‘hopepunk’ (quote) and its socio-political implications, as well as the capacity of literature to help to imagine and create better realities through a sense of community and solidarity. In particular, I will focus on Becky Chamber’s The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, (2015) a USA science fiction novel that deals with the intersection of queerness and hope, as well as the interaction between both in relation to Giroux and Butler’s theorization.
Keywords: hope; science fiction; vulnerability; queerness; storytelling.
Beatriz Hermida Ramos is a senior student at the University of Salamanca. In the realm of English studies, she mainly focuses on examining the relationship between language and power, as well as the fields of linguistics, discourse analysis and gender and sexuality studies. She is also a published poet.
e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ahmed, Sara. 2004. The Cultural Politics of Emotion. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Barthes, Roland. 1972. Mythologies. London: Fontana.
Berger, Stefan et al. 2019. “’Community’: a Useful Concept in Heritage Studies?”. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 26.4, 1-27.
Berlant, Lauren. 1998. “Intimacy: A Special Issue”. Critical Inquiry, 24.2: 281-288.
Butler, Judith. 2016. “Rethinking Vulnerability and Resistance”. Vulnerability and Resistance. Eds. Judith Butler, Zeynep Gambetti and Leticia Sabsay. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1-19.
Chambers, Becky. Ed. Digital 2014. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. New York: Hodder & Stoughton.
Ducan-Andrade, Jeffrey. 2009. “Note to Educators: Hope Required When Growing Roses in Concrete”. Harvard Educational Review, 79.2: 181-194.
Esteban Muñoz, Jose. 2009. Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. New York: New York University Press.
Giroux, Henry A. 2004. “When Hope is Subversive”. Tikkun, 19.6: 38-41.
Hammack, Phillip et al. 2018. “Queer Intimacies: A New Paradigm for the Study of Relationship Diversity”. The Journal of Sex Research, 56.48: 556-592.
Hemmings, Clare. 2011. Why Stories Matter: The Political Grammar of Feminist Theory. Durham. NC: Duke University Press.
Hemmings, Clare. 2012. “Affective Solidarity: Feminist Reflexivity and Political Transformation”. Feminist Theory, 13.2: 147-161.
Ilmonen, Kaisa. 2020. “Feminist Storytelling and Narratives of Intersectionality”. Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 45.2, 347-371.
Indira, Ramarao. 2020. “Lending Voices to the Marginalised: The Power of Narratives as Alternative Sociological Discourse”. Indian Sociological Society, 69.4: 1-10.
K Le Guin, Ursula. 2014. “Ursula K Le Guin”. National Book, November 20, 2014. Youtube video, 4:13. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Et9Nf-rsALk&t=143s.
Lear, Jonathan. 2006. Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Lorde, Audre. Your Silence Will Not Protect You. London: Silver Press, 2017.
Marvin, Amy. 2018. “Groundwork for Transfeminist Care Ethics: Sara Ruddick, Trans Children, and Solidarity in Dependency”. Hypatia, 10.10: 101-120.
McElhinny, Bonnie. 2010. “The Audacity of Affect: Gender, Race, and History in Linguistic Accounts of Legitimacy and Belonging”. Annual Review of Anthropology, 39.1: 309-328.
Pullen, Alison and Vachhani, Sheena J. 2018. “Ethics, Politics and Feminist Organizing: Writing Feminist Infrapolitics and Affective Solidarity into Everyday Sexism”. Human Relations: 72.1: 1-25.
Romano, Aja. 2018. Hopepunk, the Latest Storytelling Trend, is All about Weaponized Optimism (Vox). Web. https://www.vox.com/2018/12/27/18137571/what-is-hopepunk-noblebright-grimdark. [Accessed on May 23, 2020]
Rowland, Alexandra. The Opposite of Grimdark is Hopepunk (Tumblr). Web <https://ariaste.tumblr.com/post/163500138919/ariaste-the-opposite-of-grimdark-ishopepunk>. [Accessed on May 23, 2020]
Siegfried, Kate. 2019. “Feeling Collective: The Queer Politics of Affect in the Riot Grrrl Movement”. Women’s Studies in Communication, 42.1: 21-38.
Solnit, Rebecca. 2005. Hope in the Dark: Untold Stories, Wild Possibilities. Edinburgh: Caongate.
Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. Can the Subaltern Speak? Bashingstoke: Macmillan, 1988.
Stetsenko, Anna. 2019. “Hope, Political Imagination, and Agency in Marxism and Beyond: Explicating the Transformative Worldview and Ethico-ontoepistemology”. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 52.7: 726-737.
Van Heertum, Richard. 2006. “Marcuse, Bloch and Freire: Reinvigorating a Pedagogy of Hope”. Policy Futures in Education, 4.1: 45-50.
Walker, Alice. 1994. “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens”. Within the Circle: An Anthology of African American Literary Criticism from the Harlem Renaissance to the Present. Ed. Angelyn Mitchell. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 401-409.
West, Cornel. 2008. Hope on a tightrope. New York: Smiley Books.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.