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Criticism can sometimes provoke defensive reactions, particularly when it implicates identities people hold dear. For instance, feminists told they are upholding rape culture might become angry or upset because the criticism conflicts with an identity that is important to them. These kinds of defensive reactions are a primary focus of this paper. What is it to be defensive in this way, and why do some kinds of criticism or implied criticism tend to provoke this kind of response? What are the connections between defensiveness, identity, and active ignorance? What are the social, political, and epistemic consequences of the tendency to defensiveness? Are there ways to improve the situation?
In this paper, we offer an outline of a feminist approach to considering the issue of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI). Dominant ways of discussing ETI, particularly first-contact scenarios and protocols, are characterized by what feminism terms male bias. As with other cultural texts and disciplines, ETI studies can also be enriched by a feminist perspective. In this paper, we propose two possible applications of a feminist approach to considering ETI, such as using feminist categories to analyse our discourse about ETI, as well as understanding ETI in terms of sex and gender. We also propose a vision of ETI as genderless.
Despite coordinated international protest, the United States continued to increase its involvement in Vietnam. The escalating war, an increasingly militant global political landscape, and a new conception of anti-imperialist struggle pushed thousands of radicals to escalate their activism beyond the ideological terrain. Black radicals in the United States argued that the best way to support national liberation struggles was to wage war inside the “belly of the beast.” Latin American revolutions like Che Guevara exhorted radicals across the globe to create “two, three, many Vietnams.” And Vietnamese revolutionaries publicly welcomed this sharp radicalization of antiwar engagement. Frustrated with the limits of earlier activism, radicals in France leapt at the opportunity. Coordinating with other anti-imperialists in the North Atlantic, they tried to translate the Vietnamese struggle into their own particular contexts, and their efforts eventually lit the fuse that set off the explosive events of May 1968. In this way, the Vietnam War made May ’68 possible. May itself, radicals thought, was nothing other than another front in the revolutionary wave led by Vietnam. And just as Vietnamese revolutionaries inspired the French, the events of May ’68 inspired radicals elsewhere, who in turn tried to translate May ’68 into their own political vernacular. By the end of the year, thousands of radicals across North America and Western Europe believed it was their internationalist duty to make war at home.
The writings of republican historian and political pamphleteer Catharine Macaulay (1731–91) played a central role in debates about political reform in the Age of Enlightenment and Revolution. A critical reader of Hume's bestselling History of England, she broke new ground in historiography by defending the regicide of Charles I and became an inspiration for many luminaries of the American and French revolutions. While her historical and political works engaged with thinkers from Hobbes and Locke to Bolingbroke and Burke, she also wrote about religion, philosophy, education and animal rights. Influencing Wollstonecraft and proto-feminism, she argued that there were no moral differences between men and women and that boys and girls should receive the same education. This book is the first scholarly edition of Catharine Macaulay's published writings and includes all her known pamphlets along with extensive selections from her longer historical and political works.
Melissa L. Miller examines a new civil arena of modern professionals with changing views of sexuality that was formed during the Great Reforms of the 1860s and 1870s. Miller examines Chekhov’s participation in modern debates over sexuality, both as a doctor who in medical school was drawn to questions of sexual difference and as a writer whose frank depictions of sex and sexual affairs were paradigmatic for his time.
Tracing the problems of emancipation across the various estates, Jenny Kaminer probes the social position of women in the second half of the nineteenth century as a microcosm for Russia’s larger-scale reevaluation of social institutions, with an eye to the new opportunities for work and education available to women, as well as to the restrictive regimes, legal and otherwise, that informed the lives of Chekhov’s struggling and often unhappily married heroines.
This chapter offers a reassessment of the contemporary feminist legacies of the late surrealist novel. Historically, scholarship has reached a moment where the late surrealist novels of Leonora Carrington (1917–2011) and Dorothea Tanning (1910–2012) now operate as active intertexts. Such legacies have become manifest in a new generation of contemporary novelists who identify as feminist: Chloe Aridjis (b. 1971), Kate Bernheimer (b. 1966), Ali Smith (b. 1962), and Heidi Sopinka (b. 1971). A range of feminist-surrealist stylistics in the contemporary novel become apparent. Self-reflexive framing devices such as transcription (daydreaming) and lecturing (epistemology) enable protagonists to take control of their voice or destiny in Bernheimer’s The Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold (2001), Aridjis’s Book of Clouds (2009), and Smith’s Autumn (2016). Moreover, haunted texts and found objects serve as catalysts and/or disruptive plot devices in Sopinka’s The Dictionary of Animal Languages (2018) and Aridjis’s Asunder (2013) and Sea Monsters (2019). These novels mimic the surrealist techniques and the elderly characters found in Tanning’s Abyss/Chasm (1977/2004) and Carrington’s The Hearing Trumpet (1974). A comparative, intergenerational perspective ensures the historical authenticity of the surrealist novel, and acknowledges a critical inheritance of fictional, revisionary accounts of the avant-garde movement.
This essay traces the anti-Bildungsroman tradition under the influence of surrealism, in Georges Bataille’s Story of the Eye (1928) and Kathy Acker’s Great Expectations (1982). While Acker inherits Bataille’s fascination with violence and transgression, these themes are formally developed through the prism of punk and feminist conceptual art and performance. The recent resurgence of critical interest in Acker’s work prompts us to further consider her relationship to surrealism and the modernist avant-garde. While Acker’s homage to Bataille in the early novels signals a brazen ’theft’ of the male avant-garde tradition for feminist subversive ends, Great Expectations experiments with form and language in order to evacuate the Bildungsroman of its bourgeois (gendered) claims to moral authority and insight. While extreme experience in Bataille’s literary work holds out the promise of an affirmation of sorts, the excoriating emotional masochism of Acker’s characters tilts towards nihilism. And yet both Bataille and Acker draw on the Bildungsroman even as they decondition the humanist subject that lies at its very core, straining at the limits of language to represent the vertiginous intensity of affective life and the dissolution of desire into abjection.
In the surrealist revolt against the state, the Church, and the family, the mother figure became a key target, both as custodian of bourgeois-patriarchal values and as symbol of Catholic doctrine. In works such as Georges Bataille’s Story of the Eye (1928), Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel’s L’age d’or (1930), and Joyce Mansour’s Jules César (1955), mothers are attacked and violated, suffering a fate similar to those of the detested mother figures in the fiction of the Marquis de Sade. Yet not all mothers in surrealist art and literature are portrayed in such unequivocally negative terms. Focusing on Leonor Fini’s Mourmour, conte pour enfants velus (1976) and Dorothea Tanning’s Chasm: A Weekend (2004), this chapter traces an alternative history of surrealist representations of the mother, one in which this figure is rendered more ambiguous and at times even invested with revolutionary potential. These novels, the chapter suggests, elaborate representations of maternity in critical dialogue with Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis. As such they resonate to some extent with the (largely contemporaneous) work of French feminist theorists such as Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, and Hélène Cixous, in which the concept of maternity becomes configured as an alternative to the phallocentric symbolic order.
The chapter addresses the constructive elements of a theory of human rights: a theory of goods (important enough to satisfy a threshold criterium), a political theory of human rights and the normative foundations of the legitimacy of human rights. The chapter develops a political theory of human rights. To this end, it surveys the most prevalent critiques of human rights, including arguments that human rights are inefficient, that they lack instrumental rationality, that they are means to economic disempowerment and that they legitimize illegitimate structures of power. Postcolonial theories of human rights are discussed, as are feminist accounts. The democratic function of human rights is reconstructed. Arendt’s aporia of human rights is the focus of further thoughts. Part of the political theory of human rights is a theory of entrenchment, their role in protecting the political subjectivity of persons and their role in constituting communities. A central thesis is that a political theory of human rights must be firmly anchored in the lessons that the Holocaust taught about the importance of the protection of human rights.
Anglophone Caribbean literature written by Black women writers across the diaspora in the 1980s emerges as a transformative, genre-bending, and defiant force. This period of Caribbean literature marks a period of transition that reflects the contradictory experiences of postcolonial island nations grappling with governance, migration, failed and uneven development, and the unfinished (failed) project of decolonization. Caribbean women writers during this period addressed this project through multiple genres and paid careful attention to the lives of women who countered the male-dominated Caribbean literary canon of the 1920s–1970s. The evolution of Black women’s writing across the diaspora from the 1980s and into the 1990s reflects a clear shift and response to the interlocking systems of oppression affecting the lives of Black women. For Caribbean migrant and Caribbean American Black women, these intersections and complexities are layered with the traumatic experiences of migration and coloniality while grappling with place and space, subjectivity and sexuality, identity and self-worth.
Harriet Taylor Mill is an overlooked figure in the history of political philosophy, ethics, economics and politics, over-shadowed by the fame of her writing partner, and eventual husband, John Stuart Mill. Given that they met at a very early age (when Taylor Mill was twenty-two), and wrote together for over a quarter of a century, it can be hard to distinguish what is 'hers' and what is 'his'. Indeed, maybe we should consider much of Mill's canon as being 'theirs'. Taylor Mill inputted into some extremely famous works, including On Liberty, and her thought, impact and legacy are well worth charting. This Element explores her contribution to political theory; ethics; political economy; and political reform. It draws on close textual analysis of 'her' works and those of Mill (including manuscripts unpublished in her lifetime, and correspondence), as well as interrogating his description of their co-authoring relationship.
Trey Ellis’s novel Platitudes, published within a year of his landmark essay “The New Black Aesthetic,” is the essay come to fictional life: a novel about a struggling experimental Black male novelist who “collaborates” with a Black feminist novelist to tell the competing-narrative story of two Black teen characters who maintain their personas throughout the novel, even though they exist in different historical eras. Ellis’s publication of “The New Black Aesthetic” alongside Platitudes allows students of 1980s Black cultural production to view Ellis’s manifesto and his novel as symbiotic texts that are companion pieces that comment on a nascent, post-Civil Rights Movement school of Black art that has come to be known as post-Blackness. These two texts not only grapple with Black feminism but also push back at a mid-twentieth-century prose style that was not limited to Black female writers, and Platitudes ultimately represents the unstable, fluid nature of Blackness itself. An examination of the way Ellis’s works present a coherent case for post-Blackness acknowledges Ellis’s late-twentieth-century position as a key transitional figure in African American literary history.
Focusing on the world-making capacities of 1980s Black women writers, this chapter sheds light on a largely occluded constellation of actual travel and transnational imaginaries. A complex of somatic and imaginative expressions of geographic desire came to define contemporary Black women’s literature. The chapter tracks Black women’s increasingly self-determined and communal efforts not only to move and write across global spaces but also to bring such hemispheric, diasporic, and Third World spaces into being. A host of prominent Black women writers forged global identities and relations by engaging in progressively autonomous international travel in the 1970s and 1980s to places such as Nicaragua, North Vietnam, the Soviet Union, and Grenada. In doing so, they transgressed US foreign policies and State Department travel restrictions while also rerouting the Black internationalism of “race men” such as Robeson and Du Bois and rescripting Hemingway’s cosmopolitanism and Baldwin’s exile. Jordan, Lorde, and Bambara brought their geographic potency to bear on dominant geographies by prioritizing Third World self- and collective-fashioning, Third World care, and radical dislocation.
Feminist literary retrieval projects in Ireland quickly embraced the bibliographical and hypertextual possibilities offered in the early 2000s by the then burgeoning field of digital humanities. This essay examines the printed prehistory of projects such as the Women in Modern Irish Culture Database and the Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (volumes IV and V), demonstrating how this genealogy has shaped the nature and impact of the online archive. The chapter argue that the continuing absence from university syllabi, and publishers’ lists, of many of the Irish women ‘discovered’ by digital research projects, indicates that presence is only the first step in securing real engagement with the literary archive of women’s writings. Looking to the future of the feminist digital, and the potential offered by big data, this chapter explores how long-standing digital questions of access, interoperability, and sustainability continue to influence the parameters of the field.
Apart from its singing and dancing witches, Davenant’s adaptation of Macbeth is most famous for expanding the role of Lady Macduff. Augmenting the mere nineteen lines afforded the character in Shakespeare’s text, Davenant significantly enlarges and complicates the role, giving Lady Macduff an additional four scenes, in which she demonstrates agency in both familial and political matters. This chapter puts Shakespeare’s and Davenant’s Lady Macduffs into conversation, exploring the opportunities and challenges presented by both versions of the role in performance. Combining theatre history, textual analysis, and practice-as-research methodologies, I begin by surveying the depiction of Lady Macduff in twenty-first century stagings of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I argue that concepts of the feminine, the victim, and the mother define the interpretation of Lady Macduff in performance. I then contrast Shakespeare’s depiction of the character with that of Davenant, drawing on Anne Greenfield’s argument to consider how Davenant’s Lady Macduff might be considered a ‘subversive tragic heroine’. Developing this idea through practical exploration of Davenant’s Lady Macduff in performance, this chapter concludes by considering what practitioners today can learn from Davenant’s adaptation.
If chastity has for generations served the needs and desires of men, can it still be taken seriously as a virtue? Dismissed in the west as a medieval superstition, or, at best, as a means of escape from an intolerable situation, chastity seems a worn-out version of goodness which belongs in the past. Putting forward a new reading of Pericles (1609), this chapter opens up chastity as forgotten version of agency which, in the most surprising ways, enables new kinds of assertion and affirmation. It offers an account of the Marina Project, an ongoing creative-critical collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company, which has resulted in the creation of a new play entitled Marina. Both the project and the play prioritize the perspective of the protagonist’s daughter, Marina, who powerfully and triumphantly refuses to play the game where women are sold to men. Chastity emerges as a specifically female and remarkably direct kind of action which overturns the withdrawal implied by obedience to a patriarchal frame. Marina’s "radical chastity" disrupts our sense of the way things have to be, opening up a constellation of important issues today.
A postlude acts as a précis of my argument about honor across the Romantic period. In the Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands – the popular 1857 autobiography from a Creole nurse known as “the Other Florence Nightingale” – we witness the complex legacy of feminist honor in the literature of the black diaspora. Building her reputation at the height of Britain’s imperial conquests, Seacole seems to embrace the “manly” liberal-republican values that Mary Wollstonecraft urged women to adopt. But Seacole also deliberately cultivates her outsider status, especially within the colonial borderlands’ autonomous black collectives, where mutualist activity happens beyond the sanctioned, Western apparatus of respect.
Given that feminist arguments have been around for decades, and that there has been progress towards gender equality, many would argue that concerns over gender have been resolved ߝ a battle won. However, declaring victory in this manner seems very premature. After all, the evidence suggests that a significant number of wider questions still attract attention: just what is gender and what is the best theoretical framework for approaching it? What roles do schools play in its construction? Do we still have to go down the ‘men are to blame for everything’ route? Why should schooling have anything to do with gender identity?
This chapter will unpack the complex and changing relationship between gender and education. In order to accomplish this, it will link each of the most common myths in the area with one of the three waves of feminism that characterised the twentieth century. As with the arguments surrounding social class, it will ultimately be suggested that explanations relying upon a master discourse ߝ not ‘the economy’ again, but in this case patriarchy ߝ a unified system of male domination ߝ are outdated. Similarly, it is argued that the view of gender as a binary of man/woman based on anatomy at birth has had its day.
In Tolstoy’s time debates about sexuality and female emancipation (the “Woman Question”) were inseparable from fundamental decisions regarding how Russian society was to be organized. Were women to be maternal or not, educated or not, autonomous or not? Such questions were tied to thorny economic, religious, legal, and political issues. Tolstoy’s oeuvre reveals his intense engagement with contemporary debates, as well as his increasingly radical ideas about how such problems should be resolved. Anna Karenina is arguably among Tolstoy’s less extreme statements on sex and gender, yet it can be read to imply that a woman cannot sever the bonds of marriage and stay alive. The Kreutzer Sonata goes so far as to suggest that only radical chastity, even if it leads to humanity’s extinction, can free people from the degradation, commodification, and violence that are inevitable consequences of sexual relations. In What is Art? Tolstoy establishes a symbolic link between the sexual marketplace, the art marketplace, and finally all marketplaces – and thus, it seems, all of modern civilization.