Emily Lange ’21 publishes articles on gender, identity in sci-fi in academic journals

Femspec published Lange’s essay last month, the Journal of Popular Culture plans to publish another in 2022 and a third is under review. Lange is a Lumen Scholar and Honors Fellow whose research examines gender, age, race and disability in speculative fiction

Emily Lange ’21 found a sweet spot of scholarly research melding her interest in speculative fiction, philosophy and intersectional identities that’s led to two articles accepted to peer-reviewed academic journals.

A third is in the works.

Lange is a Lumen Scholar and Honors Fellow researching the intersections of gender, age, race and disability within speculative fiction. Science fiction, fantasy and related genres offer readers frameworks to examine political and social structures.

“Great science fiction and fantasy can carry you forward in a sense of wonder,” Lange said. “Sometimes part of that wonder is borne out of critical engagement with strategies of oppression. ‘What would the world look like if we do this differently?’ The process allows us to take a step back from what we think we know.”

Last month, “Femspec” — an interdisciplinary feminist journal dedicated to science fiction, fantasy and supernatural genres — published Lange’s article “Creativity and Sacrifice in Two Short Stories from Octavia Butler and Maurice Broaddus.” Another article about the intersection of race and age was accepted for publication in 2022 by the Journal of Popular Culture after Lange’s presentation at a conference of the Popular Culture Association of the South last spring. That presentation also earned her an award for the best undergraduate presentation.

A third article, also about gender and race in speculative fiction, is currently under review.

Undergraduates publishing their research in peer-reviewed, professional journals is uncommon. It speaks to the rigor and quality of Lange’s work that she has been published or chosen for publication by these peer-reviewed, professional journals, faculty said.

Lange is a double major in English and philosophy, and says those majors straddle her academic interests and future plans.

She’s weighing two potential paths: A master’s degree in archival studies (she works in Elon’s Belk Library Archives) and a doctoral degree in philosophy.

“I want to continue studying the impact of literature and speculative fiction on philosophy, how speculative fiction can be used in classrooms to teach philosophy,” Lange said. “My philosophy research is focused on pedagogy. They’ve been together in my head, but I want to get them together on paper.”

Faculty praise Lange’s dedication and professionalism in pursuing each of her passions.

“I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a student who is as deeply invested in three different fields as Emily,” said Professor of English Megan Isaac, who is mentoring Lange in her Honors and Lumen research. “She’s doing extraordinary work in English and philosophy, but she’s also interested in archival library projects and has undertaken off-the-books work with Belk librarians. One of her online archive exhibits focuses on Black studies protests at Elon and another explores Lithuanian faculty at Elon.”

In philosophy, Department Chair Stephen Bloch-Schulman said Lange is a leader in classes and in the department, earning numerous awards and scholarships. She assisted him in re-envisioning the Rap, Race, Gender and Philosophy course as a teaching and learning apprentice using her speculative fiction research.

Professor Ann Cahill said Lange’s considerable academic achievements fall short in describing her strength of character.

“She is a model of intellectual and ethical integrity who is motivated by a genuine curiosity: about the world, her communities, the many forms that knowledge and insight can take, and about ways to understand and dismantle social structures that limit human flourishing,” Cahill said. “That curiosity inspires and motivates others in turn.”

Lange describes faculty in English and philosophy her “toolbox of mentors” because of the close working relationships she has with them. She’s grateful for their guidance and support and looks forward to future collaboration with them.

“The professors here have been especially amazing to work with,” Lange said. “I’ve created so many intellectual bonds that will last beyond Elon. I feel like I’ll be able to email my professors in the future to discuss questions of scholarship and academic research, and the prospect of doing that is really exciting.”