Joanna Russ (born February 22, 1937) is an American writer, academic and feminist. She is the author of a number of works of science fiction, fantasy and feminist literary criticism and is best known for The Female Man, a novel combining utopian fiction and satire. It used the device of parallel worlds as a form of a mediation of the ways that different societies might produce very different versions of the same person, and how all might interact and respond to sexism.
Russ was born in New York City to teachers Evarett I. and Bertha Zinner Russis ,
Russ has been creating works of fiction since a very early age. Over the following years the young Russ filled countless notebooks with stories, poems, comics and illustrations, often hand-binding the material with thread.
Russ graduated from Cornell University, where she studied with Vladimir Nabokov, in 1967 and received her MFA from the Yale Drama School in 1970. After teaching at several universities, including Cornell, she became a full professor at the University of Washington.
Russ came to be noticed in the science fiction world in the late 1960s, a time when women were starting to enter the field in larger numbers, in particular for her award-nominated novel Picnic on Paradise. Much of her earliest published work was short horror fiction. It has been said that SF was a field dominated by male authors, often thought to be writing for a predominantly male audience. Russ, who is openly lesbian, was one of the most outspoken authors to challenge male dominance of the field, and is generally regarded as one of the leading feminist science fiction scholars and writers.
Along with her work as a writer of prose fiction, Russ has also been a playwright, essayist, and author of nonfiction works such as the essay collection Magic Mommas, Trembling Sisters, Puritans & Perverts and the book-length study of modern feminism, What Are We Fighting For? For nearly fifteen years, she was an influential (if intermittent) review columnist for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
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