Kara Kennedy: Women's Agency in the Dune Universe (2021, Springer International Publishing AG) 5 stars

Review of "Women's Agency in the Dune Universe" on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

If you want a systematic, scientific discussion of the Dune series and/or an excellent example of a feminist critique of popular literature, this is the book for you. It makes an argument for a feminist reading of Dune using a very structured approach.

It chooses five major themes: Mind-Body Synergy, Reproduction and Motherhood, Voices, Education and Memory, and Sexuality. For each theme it then 1. explains the real-world discussion in the feminist movement during Herbert's lifetime, 2. interprets the text in that context, giving several examples of plot and characterization and 3. compares the series to the works of feminist Sci-Fi authors from the same era. It also does not shy away from pointing out and discussing parts of the text that complicate (and maybe even contradict) a feminist reading.

The target audience of this book is clearly scientifically minded, so it is probably not the easiest read for the general public. But I found that this structure - and especially the context provided - makes it relatively easy to follow the argument and take away genuine insights, even without a firm background in women's studies (I'd call myself an interested hobbyist).

I obviously don't agree with every single argument the book makes, but by being balanced, reflected and critical in its reading of the text, it makes it easy to still respect the soundness of the argument. The author clearly did their research and is confident about their reading, while still being aware of its limitations.