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Heroines in Fantasy and Science Fiction Will Be Topic of Conference at Ithaca College

ITHACA, NY — Pippi Longstocking and Ellen Ripley may have little in common on the surface, but the pigtailed schoolgirl from the series of children’s books and the protagonist of the “Alien” film series — and other fictional females like them — will be the focus of a daylong conference at Ithaca College. “Pippi to Ripley: Heroines of Fantasy and Science Fiction” will be held on campus on Saturday, April 23. The conference is free and open to the public.

The keynote speaker will be Marleen Barr, whose talk is titled “A Hitchhiker's Guide to Feminist Science Fiction Criticism.” A pioneer in the field of feminist science fiction criticism, her books include “Lost in Space: Probing Feminist Science Fiction and Beyond” and “Envisioning the Future: Science Fiction and the Next Millennium.”

Topics of conference presentations will include
• Mad, Bad and Sad Heroines
• Young Adult Novels (“Twilight” in Context)
• Female Characters in Contemporary Video Games
• Science Fiction for Grown-ups: Sex, Violence and Dystopia
• Tales from the Buffyverse
• Adapting Fairytales and Graphic Novels to Film

The conference will also include workshop sessions on writing and publishing for high school students. Among the presenters will be Ithaca College student Kody Keplinger ’13, author of the young-adult novel “The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend).”

The conference should be of interest to college and high school students who are fans of the genre; teachers and librarians interested in using contemporary, non-traditional texts to reach out to young people; and anyone who would like to open up conversations with students about the depiction in women in popular culture.

“Science fiction is a field that encourages youthful engagement — one might also say obsession — and it attracts highly intelligent young people who may feel alienated in their home communities,” said conference organizer Katharine Kittredge, professor of writing. “I wanted to supply a forum where students could take their interest in science fiction from the level of ‘fan’ to that of ‘scholar.’ Towards that end, the conference has a number of undergraduate participants who are working with faculty mentors to produce professional-level papers.”

The conference will run from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., then wrap up with a screening of the animated Japanese film “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.”

For more information, visit or contact Katharine Kittredge at