Annotated Bibliography

Baker, Kerrian. “’Speech Sounds’: How Octavia Butler Found Her Voice and Shook Up Science Fiction.” Nu Harvest Journal, 1 Dec. 2020,

Kerrian Baker goes over the historical information about Octavia Butler as she wrote “Speech Sounds,” and includes some different criticisms as well. She goes into how groundbreaking the short story was in its time, and how it helped to transform the genre of science fiction forever with the inclusion of minorities. By using a black female protagonist and both adhering to and subverting the genre expectations, she calls out the entirety of the literary community for their very prejudiced practices. Readers can use this as a straightforward literary analysis.

Baumeister, Roy F., and Kathleen D. Vohs. “Self‐Regulation, ego depletion, and motivation.” Social and personality psychology compass 1.1 (2007): 115-128.

This article examined and synthesized several findings about self-regulation and ego depletion. It was initially published in the Journal of Social and Personality Psychology Compass. Roy Baumeister is a Psychology Professor and head of the social psychology graduate program at Florida State University. He earned a PhD in social psychology from Princeton University. Kathleen Vohs, his coauthor, is an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota and received her PhD in Psychological and Brain Sciences from Dartmouth College. The article outlines the human tendency of decreased self-regulation after having denied the self something. It goes on to explain that multiple studies have proven that self-regulation is similar to muscle. The more it is used, the less it is able to function to its full ability. This is exhibited in “Speech Sounds” when Rye shows little inhibition for intimacy with Obsidian. Notably this lack of reservation occurs after having restrained herself from acting rashly out of jealousy for his ability to read.

Bellot, Gabrielle. “Positive Obsession; Octavia E. Butler’s Visionary Science Fiction.” Book Forum (2021).

“Positive Obsession” by Gabrielle Bellot is an article from Book Forum magazine, which features articles that focus on socially pertinent books. Bellot explores the novel Butler: Kindred, Fledgling, Collected Stories and recounts how Butler’s path to becoming a writer was an isolated one, where she was hindered by limitations created by the intersection of her race and gender. Bellot exhibits how Butler’s life shaped her career, and how racism and sexism played a role in establishing her voice as a writer. This is done by recounting actual events in Butler’s own life, and how she encountered oppression at many points of her career, as a large, dyslexic, African American woman ostracized from many communities in her life. Bellot examines how this influenced Butler’s love for writing, and Bellot’s respect for the author is evident. It is an article written in great reverence for Butler and how she overcame these social limitations, highlighting the importance of Butler’s artistic voice.

Bellot’s “Positive Obsession” is a straightforward literary analysis of Butler: Kindred, Fledgling, Collected stories, aptly highlighting information about Butler’s life and career. It provides a biography of Butler’s life and her great love for writing. Bellot encourages the reader to understand Butler’s perspective on her career, providing ample evidence of Butler’s own feelings on her life’s achievements. This offers the reader an intimate understanding of Butler, providing reasons for Butler’s historical importance and why the author remains culturally relevant today.

Butler, Octavia. “Speech Sounds.” Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. vol # 73, 1983

Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (hereafter ASMF) was founded in 1977, named after and published under the editorial direction of Isaac Asimov, who is considered one of the founding fathers of the science fiction genre. ASMF published hundreds of science fiction stories before Volume #73 in December 1983 which featured Octavia Butler’s “Speech Sounds”. “Speech Sounds” is a gripping, speculative science fiction narrative, which Butler indicates in the ‘Afterword’ of this story was done to reflect her own fears of a society that did not value communication and language.

“Speech Sounds” was ASMF’s first published story written by an African American woman, and would go on to receive critical acclaim, subverting Asimov’s own oppressive mindsets about the capacity of African American, and female science fiction authors. The following year, 1984, Butler would be the first African American woman to receive a Hugo Award for “Speech Sounds”, it would eventually be collected in two anthologies, Bloodchild and Other Stories and Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse. This story does not explicitly tackle the topic of race, yet still reflects Butler’s feeling of otherness. It is a speculative science fiction story that doesn’t rely on typical science fiction tropes and has evolved into the speculative fiction genre in a post-COVID American society. It is a story about a virus that impacted the whole world, regardless of one’s own identity. A world that Butler projected herself into through the protagonist Rye.

Ceïde, Mirnova E., et al. “Mediation Analyses of the Role of Apathy on Motoric Cognitive Outcomes.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 19, no. 12, 2022, p. 7376.,

Written by Mirnova E. Ceide et al., “Mediation Analysis of the Role of Apathy on Motoric Cognitive Outcomes” was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health on June 16th, 2022. The paper is a research journal done to show the outcomes of studies that showed the correlation between apathy and poor cognitive function in older adults –adults over the age of 65, as that is the group with the greatest risk factor. The evidence presented shows a higher risk of dementia for adults with apathetic behaviors and that have preexisting conditions such as Parkinson’s, MCI, or have suffered a stroke. Testing was done on those that enrolled in the Central Control of Mobility in Aging Study. 347 adults without dementia – which was determined via consented testing – enrolled in the program and had to pass a series of cognitive tests; once those tests were completed, the participants would then be carefully studied and periodically checked on at yearly intervals. It is to be noted that there is no concrete way to determine the standard for apathy, and it is still classified as a subcategory under the diagnosis of depression. Apathy is a type of mild behavioral impairment.

Curtis, Claire P. “Theorizing Fear: Octavia Butler and the Realist Utopia.” Utopian Studies, vol. 19, no. 3, 2008, pp. 411–31. JSTOR, Accessed 6 Dec. 2022.

This article was published by Penn State University Press as part of their Utopian Studies collection where they published an Octavia Butler special issue of the year 2008. Claire Curtis is a professor of political science at the College of Charleston located in South Carolina. She holds a MA and Ph.D. from John Hopkins University. In her article “Theorizing Fear: Octavia Butler and the Realist Utopia”, Curtis looks at different stories written by Octavia Butler and analyzes the recurring theme that all stories have in common and the main drive that Butler is trying to convey to the readers. The first theme is the creation of a utopia by Butler. In a lot of her stories, Butler creates a new world for her characters. The second is the theme of fear. In Speech Sounds Butler evokes both fear of violence and fear for the main character’s safety. Lastly the recurring theme of how humans come to terms with such fear. Curtis examines how these themes can play out for females, minorities, and people of different social classes and how fear leads humans to activate their fight-or-flight response. Particularly, how in Speech Sounds, the main character acts because of her fear of living in a post-pandemic world.

Delaney, Samuel R. “Racism and Science Fiction.” Dark Matter and The New York Review of Science Fiction 120 (1998). <>.

Samuel R. Delany was Octavia Butler’s teacher at the Clarion Science Fiction workshop in 1971, and the only other African American author published before Butler in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. His 1998 article “Racism and Science Fiction” reflects his own experience as a black man in the science fiction field. He also fondly reflects on his relationship with Butler, from the beginning of her career. Delany and Butler are known as two of the first black science fiction authors and pioneers of the Afro-Futurism subgenre of science fiction, which Delany concisely argues against. This is done by providing ample evidence of the many black authors that preceded his well-received 1966 novel Babel-17. He discusses how many of these authors were influential to his own voice as an author, and his belief that ‘black-narratives’ went unacknowledged because of how they were received by white audiences. Delany compares these authors and their stories to popular, white authors. Through this comparison of narratives, and by recounting his personal experience, Delany provides ample accounts of the presence of racism at multiple layers of the science genre field: science fiction themes/ tropes, the publishing world, and amongst Delany and Butler’s own literary contemporaries in the field.

“Racism and Science Fiction” was published by The New York Social Review and featured in the book Dark Matter, an illuminating book about the unseen presence of black writers that went unacknowledged in a dominantly white genre. By providing a personal narrative in this article, Delany provides an autobiographical account of his career, which provides a unique historical insight into his unique experience in this genre. As a friend and mentor of Butler, Delany’s own words provide a unique insight into the obstacles that Butler was also facing at the time.

Dimmock, Mark, and Andrew Fisher. “Conscience.” Ethics for A-Level, 1st ed., Open Book Publishers, 2017, pp. 157-167. JSTOR   Accessed 7 May 2023.

This source provides a foundation for understanding Freud’s theory of the ego and the id. It is a first-edition ethics textbook that was published in 2017. The author, Mark Dimmock, holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Nottingham and teaches philosophy and theory of knowledge. Coauthor, Andrew Fisher, is an Associate Professor and teaches philosophy at the University of Nottingham. Chapter 9 on conscience was utilized to gain a foundational understanding of Freud’s psychoanalytical theory. The id and the ego’s contribution to decision-making were applied when considering how Rye, the main character, evaluated her options and reacted in “Speech Sounds”.

Green, Sarah L., et al. “Apathy and Depression as Predictors of Activities of Daily Living Following Stroke and Traumatic Brain Injuries in Adults: A Meta-Analysis.” Neuropsychology Review, vol. 32, no. 1, 2021, pp. 51–69.,

“Apathy and Depression as Predictors of Activities of Daily Living Following Stroke and Traumatic Brain Injuries in Adults: A Meta-Analysis.” Was published on March 23rd, 2021, in Neuropsychology Review volume 32 by Sarah L. Green et al. “Apathy and Depression” is an academic journal article discussing the commonalities and connections between depression and brain injuries. Depression is defined as a mood disorder that specifically notes hopelessness, sadness, and worthlessness as symptoms. Apathy is defined as the lack of motivation and or making/maintaining goals. The journal discusses the potential rehabilitation paths that survivors of brain injuries could have and the effects that depression and apathy can have on them. The connection between brain injuries and apathy is because ABI generally affects the frontal lobe and limbic systems, the same places that regulate motivation, leading to a 61% increase in apathetic behavior following traumatic brain injuries. This study notes that depression and apathy are often shown to overlap, and apathy is often cited as a symptom of depression instead of its own entity. It is stated that it would be prudent to distinguish apathy and depression as different illnesses to create different and more effective treatment strategies. This journal took data from 20 different studies, with 14 of them finding similar correlations between apathy and brain injury.

Gutzmer, Kyle, et al. “‘Come on Baby. You Know I Love You’: African American Women’s Experiences of Communication with Male Partners and Disclosure in the Context of Unwanted Sex.” Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol. 45, no. 4, 2016, pp. 807–819.,

In this study researchers from different Californian Universities sought out African American women from the San Diego area to interview about any experiences with sexual coercion in intimate relationships with a male partner. Of the 28 possible participants, aged 18-44, only 19 were able to complete a full interview. These interviews were performed with trained professionals who were female and from a minority. The interviews were flexible in nature allowing the participants to ask questions and elaborate freely. Approximately 90% of the participants had been threatened to engage in unwanted sexual activities and 57.8% had been physically forced.

These interviews focused on the communication that occurred before and after these unwanted sexual experiences. Before these experiences the male partners engaged in different verbal and nonverbal behaviors such as bullying, accusations of infidelity, unwanted sexual touches, pressuring, and other strategies to coerce sex. The participants would attempt to refuse, but they either gave in or were physically forced into these situations. After these experiences, the male partners would avoid discussion, and downplay the incident when it was brought up. Some of the participants might disclose the event to trusted friends or family, but few would seek out help from a trained professional.\

Halali, Eliran, et al. “Between Self-Interest and Reciprocity: The Social Bright Side of Self-Control Failure.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, vol. 143, no. 2, Apr. 2014, pp. 745–54. EBSCOhost

This study examines the human tendency to reciprocate. It asks if reciprocity is something automatic or a conscious act that requires thought. It was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology in 2014. The author, Eliran Halali, holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in psychology. By conducting three studies, the article analyzes factors contributing to the human tendency to reciprocate kindness or, alternatively malice, including the fairness of a proposal affecting the subject’s response, likelihood to accept an offer, and arousal. This is significant to Octavia Butler’s “Speech Sounds” in multiple situations presented. The first is the main character’s interaction with Obsidian after the bus incident. She felt the position she was put in was unfair as he had already drawn attention to her. Alternatively, not getting in his car was less appealing. However, once Obsidian had opened up to her, she was more willing to engage with him. He made the offer more attractive, and in turn, she was willing to reciprocate his affection. The second implication is when she decides to bring the orphans home with her. She initially does not think twice about leaving them but realizes that having a human connection will benefit her and changes her decision.

Henslin, James M. “Gender and Age.” Essentials of Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. 10th ed., Pearson, 2013, pp. 274-298.

James Henslin walks us through the rise of feminism. He goes over how throughout the years, women have become a minority, even though they make up half of the population. He brings to light all the violence that was going on towards women, and how that lead to women standing up for themselves. Henslin goes over what feminism is and how the different waves of feminist approaches paved the way for how it is today. Readers can use this as a theory piece that can help clarify what feminism is and what has led up to it.

Kenan, Randall. “An Interview With Octavia E. Butler.” Callaloo, vol. 14, no. 2, 1991, pp. 495–504. JSTOR, Accessed 6 Dec. 2022.

Randall Kenan was an award-winning American author that specialized in magical realism. This interview between the two African-American fiction authors took place over the phone in November 1990 and was published by John Hopkins University Press, first featured in Callaloo in the Spring of 1991. Callaloo, A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters was founded in 1976 and is still publishing, maintaining a focus on original works by and about Black artists worldwide.

Kenan prefaces this interview with a summary of Butler’s work and accomplishments. It is clear that he has great respect for Butler’s trailblazing career, stressing her ability to lift her work ‘beyond genre’. The topic of genre starts Kenan’s interview, creating a very poignant insight into Butler’s feelings about labels in the literature industry, and feelings about her own work. She casually weaves in anecdotes and memories of her own childhood. This interview is one of the many historical artifacts that exist where interested audiences can hear Butler in her own words. However, “An Interview With Octavia E. Butler” has a particular sense of intimacy that truly makes this interview stand apart. The casualness in Butler’s voice creates a unique and captivating tone throughout the interview, it is a unique opportunity to hear Butler voice off the page.

Kuk, Anna, and Monika Guszkowska. “Changes and Predictors of the Sense of Meaning in Life in Polish University Students Participating in Psychological Workshops Communication–Forgiveness–Love.” Journal of Religion and Health, vol. 58, no. 4, 2018, pp. 1095–1106.,

In this study, 33 students from the Józef Piłsudski University of Physical Education in Warsaw volunteered to take part in a workshop called “Communication-Forgiveness-Love” in an attempt to learn more about these subjects than their academic courses taught. This workshop seeks to strengthen each student’s sense of identity and purpose in life while lowering the occurrence of mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety by improving emotional control and communication behaviors in these students. The results were evaluated with a pretest before the workshop and a posttest after the workshop evaluating the participants’ values and ideas on ‘the meaning of their life.

The Communication portion of the workshop focused on teaching the students active listening skills, overcoming communication barriers, reading non-verbal cues, and distinguishing different emotional states in people. The forgiveness and love portions of the workshop focused on conflict resolution, empathy, and the different forms of love. After the conclusion of the workshops, a posttest was taken by the participants. These posttests revealed that the students had increased levels of confidence and feelings of control over their own lives while their feelings of boredom, apathy, and lack of purpose decreased. The students had a better sense of purpose and identity after taking this workshop. The students with the most increased positive feelings were those with worse mental health and lower social competency, showing that these students should be sought out for this kind of workshop. As this was a one-group study there is no control group to compare results against.

Miyazaki, Hidetaka. “Dark Souls.” FromSoftware Inc., 2011.

Dark Souls is a Japanese Roleplaying Game created by FromSoftware Inc and directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki. The game is set in a dark fantasy world set after the fall of a golden age when an age of darkness encroaches upon the world. The player is thrust into the world as a cursed undead without explaining why they are there or what the current story is and must piece it together themselves. The game itself deals with themes of apathy, depression, and hope as the player quests through a game where failure is permanently punished – each time the player dies they lose a large amount of progress and all of their currency – and each and every foe the player faces was once on the same quest as them but gave up on succumbed to despair. The player is not told about the purpose of their quest and is left in a state of utter confusion for most of the game as to why they are going anywhere or doing anything. It is the player’s choice whether or not to let the Age of Darkness be born or to give their life to continue the Age of Fire, either letting the current world fade away and a new one be created or perpetuating the status quo for an unspecified amount of time.

Outterson, Sarah. “Diversity, Change, Violence: Octavia Butler’s Pedagogical Philosophy.” Utopian Studies, vol. 19, no. 3, 2008, pp. 433–56. JSTOR, Accessed 6 Dec. 2022.

This article was published by Penn State University Press for their Utopian Studies Volume dedicated to Octavia Butler in 2008. “Diversity, Change, Violence: Octavia Butler’s Pedagogical Philosophy” was written by Sara Outterson. Otterson holds her degree in Law from William and Mary School of Law. She currently works for the Center for Reproductive Rights. In this article, Sarah Outterson examines the theme of violence in Octavia Butler’s stories. She analyzes how the violence and suffering in her novels reveal our own inherent violence as humans. In Speech Sounds, particularly it reveals how much violence can affect how humans act upon it. Outterson also examines how Butler interprets violence as necessary for the way we live such as living under oppression, especially for minority communities.  She also analyzes how the pain from violence can bring new life. She uses examples from Butler’s stories such as Xenogenesis, Amnesty, Blood Child, and Speech Sounds. She also shares how all these short stories share violence becoming something new, something to look forward to in a post-apocalyptic world such as the one that Octavia Butler creates in each of her stories. Accepting change and diversity prevents communities from falling apart and can even help them be reborn.

Smith, Christina Jean. “What Disappears and What Remains: Representations of Social Fluidity in the Post-Apocalypse.” NC State Repository, North Carolina State University, 2007,

Christina Smith goes over three stories in her article, of which are Walter Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and Olivia Butlers “Speech Sounds.” She aims to examine the ways authors have envisioned the apocalypse, specifically on the concepts of social fluidity and change. Focusing on the “Speech Sounds” section, she starts with a summary, and shows how Butler thinks that language is the most essential binding element of any complex society. As without language, we revert to the primitive animalistic ways of our cousins, the chimps. Readers can use this as a literary analysis leaning towards how important language and communication are.

Sturgis, Amy H. “The Parables of Octavia Butler.”, 1 June 2006,

This article was written a few months after Octavia Butler’s unexpected death and works as a retrospective of Butler’s literary body of works and a quick examination of the woman behind them. Butler was born to a poor family and struggled growing up with dyslexia and being marginalized as both a black woman and a lesbian. However, Butler managed to overcome her obstacles to become one of the most respected science fiction writers of all time, winning several awards, and so far being the only science fiction writer to win the MacArthur Foundation genius grant.

In the article Amy Sturgis, the writer, examines some of the different novels that Butler wrote, connecting each story with the themes that Butler examined throughout her work. Throughout all of her works, there are themes of coercion, abuse of power, questions about one’s responsibility to their community, and the ideas of kindness and empathy are explored, even when these subjects may make the reader uncomfortable. Sturgis notes that the villains in these stories are institutions that use coercion to control others, while the protagonists are individuals fighting to find justice for those around them. Sturgis ends the article by explaining that Butler’s work is well-known and well-regarded for forcing readers to reconsider those who are alienated.

Theory aka McCauley, Nikki. “The Hyphenated American: An American idiom for the ages.” Lesbian News 35.7 (2010): 11.

“The Hyphenated American” is a 2010 article that focuses on the life and accomplishments of Octavia Butler. It was featured in Lesbian News a magazine that highlights stories relevant to lesbian communities. The author, Theory, illuminates the importance of Butler’s visionary science fiction, and the importance of Butler’s identity throughout her career. Theory lists the many great accomplishments that Butler received throughout her life, and the uniqueness and impressiveness of doing this during a period of civil discord, qualifying Butler’s historical importance in American literature.

This short article was written to in an issue by Lesbian News celebrating African American history month. Theory openly discusses the presence of racism in America, using subverting language that may upset certain audiences. However, this article provides historical context pertinent to the importance of Butler’s life and work. This article doesn’t fully submerge the reader in Butler’s life, instead focusing on a brief reflection of Butler’s many achievements. Theory discusses the ‘hyphenated American’ which is the intersection of Butler’s identity as an African American – woman, and how being a hyphenated American only further cements the importance that Butler has. Short but poignant, this article accurately argues that Butler was a trailblazer for other marginalized voices.



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Annotated Bibliography Copyright © 2021 by Liza Long is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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