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"Truth Is a Matter of the Imagination": Science and Fiction in Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness

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Title: "Truth Is a Matter of the Imagination": Science and Fiction in Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness
Author: Del Toro Macias Valadez, Isabel
Department: School of English and Theatre Studies
Program: Literary Studies / Theatre Studies in English
Advisor: Schacker, Jennifer
Abstract: Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness has been the most studied and analyzed of her early novels. The novel’s basic premise of a genderless alien society has been fertile ground for the analysis and conceptualization of gender and sexuality; however, little attention has been paid to the way Le Guin creates and explores different discourses and genres, such as myth and legend, within the novel. This project explores the role of discourse types in The Left Hand of Darkness; specifically, I am interested in how Le Guin's invocation of various voices and narrative genres challenges the notion that science is a completely objective discipline, grounded in the Truth, and distinct from myth and other folkloric narratives. Rather than approaching these embedded narratives as archetypes, the novel allows us to re-imagine science itself as a form of narrative discourse or even as another form of fiction. Ultimately, I wish to show that Le Guin challenges the common conceptions of folklore, fiction, and science to suggest that each is a way to arrive at the Truth, adding new perspectives to the ongoing discussion of Le Guin's work.
Date: 2020-07-10
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