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The Work of Feminist Theory

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Organizer: Shilyh Warren

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Seminar description: In this seminar, we reflexively engage in the work of feminist theory as well as consider its membership, telos, and intellectual histories. The practices of thought that coalesce under the heading of “theory” in the academy -- philosophy, psychoanalysis, Marxism, and literary criticism, for example -- have rigorous histories of exclusion and containment, both of individual feminist thinkers as well as of ideas and concepts relevant to feminist politics. Thus, for example, the history of psychoanalysis becomes a patriarchal homage to Freud, where feminist thinkers like Marie Bonaparte and Luce Irigaray become optional ingredients, garnish to the main dish of universal psychic development. The result is a centuries-long citational reproduction of thinkers and ideas that marginalize the work of and for women, queers, exiles, and a range of Others. In response, this seminar brings together papers that move beyond the horizon of mere inclusion of women into established canons, which Joan Scott called the “add women and stir” approach. Rather we operate reflexively, both engaging with the ideas of feminist theorists -- about sex, literature, images, the body, and literal and figurative modes of reproduction -- as well as asking how, why, and to what effect these ideas have been contained and marginalized in the long history of capital T Theory.

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