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Author Topic: Short stories where character's(s') gender is not identified?  (Read 504 times)
paddington_bear
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« on: October 17, 2014, 12:06:26 PM »

The subject line explains what I'm looking for. Texts - preferably short stories, but novels are fine if they can easily be excerpted - where the author gives no indication of the gender of the character(s).  I don't mean that the characters identify themselves as gender queer, or genderless, etc.  Just that the author gives no clues - through pronouns, descriptions, etc. - of what gender the character is.  Jeannette Winterson's Written on the Body has been recommended.

Thanks!
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malcha
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« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2014, 12:12:17 PM »

Not a short story, and probably not the most useful thing for teaching purposes, but a delightful read: Sarah Caudwell's Hilary Tamar books. There are four books, and the gender of the first person narrator is never revealed.

*goes back into hiding*
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paddington_bear
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« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2014, 12:16:03 PM »

No, come back malcha!  Thanks for the rec.  Good to see you. :)
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lilyb
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« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2014, 12:17:10 PM »

Jeannette Winterson's Written on the Body could work well in an excerpt. Here is a link to Winterson discussing gender ambiguity in her novel:

http://www.jeanettewinterson.com/book/written-on-the-body/

Sounds very interesting.
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nezahualcoyotl
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« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2014, 8:36:10 PM »

Apparently in the original Swedish the novel Let The Right One In avoids assigning gendered pronouns, etc to one of the main characters for most of the book. It should be possible to find excerpts in the English translation that abide by this. Be warned that the novel contains some very disturbing themes, though.
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baleful_regards
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« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2014, 8:40:45 PM »

Apparently in the original Swedish the novel Let The Right One In avoids assigning gendered pronouns, etc to one of the main characters for most of the book. It should be possible to find excerpts in the English translation that abide by this. Be warned that the novel contains some very disturbing themes, though.

Oskar is pretty clearly male, but the gender of Eli is purposefully ambiguous.

I can also  "what I was " by Meg Rosoff. One character is male , and the other (Finn) is assumed to be male by the narrator.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2014, 8:43:49 PM by baleful_regards » Logged

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onthefringe
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« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2014, 9:38:48 PM »

I love Caudwell's Hilary Tamar novels, but don't know that they would excerpt well.

 Emma Bull's novel Bone Dance has an ungendered protagonist, though it turns out to be for a reason.

Kelly Eskridge's book of short stories Dangerous Space contains several stories with a character named "Mars" whose sex/gender are never revealed.
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nezahualcoyotl
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« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2014, 10:17:26 PM »

Apparently in the original Swedish the novel Let The Right One In avoids assigning gendered pronouns, etc to one of the main characters for most of the book. It should be possible to find excerpts in the English translation that abide by this. Be warned that the novel contains some very disturbing themes, though.

Oskar is pretty clearly male, but the gender of Eli is purposefully ambiguous.

Yes, I meant the author avoids using gendered pronouns, etc, for Eli, which is of course entirely deliberate.
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'Education is like a venereal disease; it makes you unsuitable for many jobs, and then you have the urge to pass it on.'
-Terry Pratchett

I do solemnly swear to obey all the laws of thermodynamics.
onthefringe
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« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2014, 10:35:50 AM »

A few more (but mostly novels, and all speculative fiction, sorry). And few of these are probably what you really seem to be looking for -- ie something where gender is simply not mentioned, as opposed to something where one or more characters have genders outside the binary or where a deliberately gender-neutral society is being described.

The narrator of Melissa Scott's The Kindly Ones is never referred to by gendered pronouns.

Part of Marge Piercy's  Woman on the Edge of Time takes place in a post gender maybe-utopia where people are referred to by the pronoun "per".

Barry King's story "Virtual Private Network" has a first person narrator who is never referred to by any gendered pronouns.

In Nancy Kress' "My Mother, Dancing", the humans use nongendered pronouns (hir, singular they) throughout, and the aliens appear to be actually ungendered. You can read the first part here.

There's an interesting short essay by Ursula K. LeGuin about the issues of attempting genderless writing here

A list of apparently non gendered children's books here. And I think in most of Mo Willem's Elephant and Piggie books, Piggie is not gender defined (though in jacket blurbs and sometimes by clothing Piggie is female).
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vikingar
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« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2014, 12:57:53 AM »

Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice (novel, sorry) has female pronouns for everyone  - and some explicit discussion of how difficult it is for the narrator who thinks like that when he is talking to someone from a different culture/ language which does acknowledge gender for him to work out which the appropriate word therefore is. For the most part, there is no indication of the gender of characters, although it is clear that there is gender, it's just they don't recognise it.
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mfaeer
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« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2014, 11:28:32 PM »

The Tell-Tale Heart. Many assume the narrator is a male, but others speculate the narrator is a woman. Pronouns are neutral.
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