2014 Le Guin Fellow: Andrew Ferguson
When Andrew Ferguson came to campus to explore UO’s superb collection of feminist science fiction, he wasn’t expecting to uncover an original manuscript of Ursula Le Guin’s Tehanu hidden away in the archives. Although archival materials for Tehanuwere what he came looking for, finding and identifying the original manuscript came as a happy surprise. Ferguson, one of two winners of the 2014-15 Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship, was in Eugene for ten days in early April to conduct research in the UO Libraries Special Collections and University Archives for the final chapter of his PhD dissertation.
A PhD candidate in English at the University of Virginia, Ferguson works in 20th- and 21st-century literature, media studies, and critical discourses on gender, sexuality, and disability. His biography of R.A. Lafferty is forthcoming from the University of Illinois Press Modern Masters of Science Fiction series. The fourth novel in Le Guin’s Earthsea series, Tehanu, Ferguson says, “represents a surprising departure from the foregoing three books,” transforming “from a largely masculinist quest focusing on heroism and valor, to a largely feminist fantasy reflecting on trauma and disability, in which heroism is notable mostly for its impotence or outright absence.” Ferguson said that by examining manuscripts and correspondence related to Tehanu, he hoped “to track the process of the author during composition and revision, as she opens up her text to uncertainty, and to the unpredictability of transformation—and with it, an alternate mode of heroism, preserving imaginative space to so many so often denied.”