In 1949 Simone de Beauvoir asked, What does it mean to be a woman? Her answer to that question inaugurated a radical transformation of the meaning of woman that defined the direction of subsequent feminist theory. What Beauvoir discovered is that it is impossible to define woman as an equal human being in our philosophical and political tradition. Her effort to redefine woman outside these parameters set feminist theory on a path of radical transformation. The feminist theorists who wrote in the wake of Beauvoir s work followed that path. Susan Hekman s original and highly engaging new book traces the evolution of woman from Beauvoir to the present. In a comprehensive synthesis of a number of feminist theorists she covers French feminist thinkers Luce Irigaray and Helene Cixous as well as theorists such as Carol Gilligan, Carole Pateman and Judith Butler. The book examines the relational self, feminist liberalism and Marxism, as well as feminist theories of race and ethnicity, radical feminism, postmodern feminism and material feminism.
Hekman argues that the effort to redefine woman in the course of feminist theory is a cumulative process in which each approach builds on that which has gone before. Although they have approached woman from different perspectives, feminist theorists has moved beyond the negative definition of our tradition to a new concept that continues to evolve. The Feminine Subject is a remarkably succinct yet wide-ranging analysis which will appeal to all feminist scholars and students as well as anyone interested in the changing nature of feminism since the 1950s.
Publisher: Polity Press
Number of pages: 240
Weight: 412 g
Dimensions: 215 x 144 x 23 mm
Susan Hekman has written a brilliant and much needed book. She encourages contemporary scholars to pursue the radical, boundary-breaking project of bringing woman into philosophical traditions and offers a shrewd analysis of what has impeded this project. This accessible book will be of great value to students of feminist philosophy, feminist theory, gender studies, and in fact, anyone who recognizes that the search for woman is on-going and continues to evolve Carol Gilligan, New York University Feminist theorists are fortunate that Susan Hekman has written this well-argued book. It will no doubt be read with interest and delight and assigned to students for classes. It is a pleasure to see a mature scholar take account of the field with an engaging thesis. Eloise Buker, Saint Louis University In The Feminine Subject, Susan Hekman has crafted an original account of feminist theory as a positive cumulative enterprise with discernible lineages to Simone de Beauvoir s The Second Sex. The intriguing result of this approach, which treats feminist theory as an evolving tradition, is a feminism that embraces its differences within, rather than being undone by them. Christine Di Stefano, University of Washington