Space Oddities examines the representation of women in outer space films from 1960 to 2000, with an emphasis on films in which women are either denied or given the role of astronaut. Marie Lathers traces an evolution in this representation from women as aliens and/or "assistant" astronauts, to women as astronaut wives, to women as astronauts themselves. Many popular films from the era are considered, as are earlier films (from Aelita Queen of Mars to Devil Girl From Mars) and historical records, literary fiction, and television shows (especially I Dream of Jeannie). Early 1960s attempts by women pilots to enter the Space Race are considered as is the media drama surrounding the death of Christa McAuliffe. In addition to its insightful film scholarship, this is an important addition to current reassessments of the Space Race. By applying insights from contemporary gender, race, and species theories to popular imaginings of women in space, the status of the Space Race as a cultural construct that reproduces and/or warps terrestrial gender structures is revealed.
Marie Lathers is Treuhaft Professor of French and Humanities at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. She has published books and articles in the areas of feminist theory and popular culture, 19th-century French studies, and the relationship among women, art, and literature.