Saturday, 12 March 2011

Revaluing French Feminism: Critical Essays on Difference, Agency, and Culture (A Hypatia Book)

Revaluing French Feminism: Critical Essays on Difference, Agency, and Culture (A Hypatia Book)
Nancy Fraser,Sandra Lee Bartky | 1992-05-01 00:00:00 | Indiana University Press | 208 | Philosophy

"... Fraser and Bartky have brought the encounter between U.S. and French feminism to a new level of seriousness."  -- Ethics

In the last decade, elements of French feminist discourse have permeated and transformed the larger feminist culture in the United States. This volume is the first sustained attempt to revalue French feminism and answer the question: What has been gained and what has been lost as a result of this intercultural encounter?

Interviews with Simone de Beauvoir open the book; essays by French feminists Sarah Kofman and Luce Irigaray follow; the North American contributors are Judith Butler, Nancy Fraser, Diana J. Fuss, Nancy J. Holland, Eleanor H. Kuykendall, Dorothy Leland, Diana T. Meyers, Andrea Nye, and Margaret A. Simons.

Nancy Fraser and Sandra Lee Bartky take French feminism--as it was introduced to the Anglo-American world by the work of Elaine Marks' and Isabelle de Courtivron's New French Feminism (1980)--and reconsider it today, in the context of developing postmodern thought/feminisms. Inaugurating third wave feminisms, the writings of Hélène Cixous, Catherine Clément, Christine Delphy, Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva, and Monique Wittig bear both a deconstructive-psychoanalytical strand of thought--holding an upper hand today in the English-speaking academia, as expressed in the Cixous, Irigaray, Kristeva triad--and a materialist subversive, countercultural instance. Focusing on issues of "identity, difference and femininity" (5), Fraser and Bartky rejoin French feminisms with Anglo-American feminists of a difference understood as a battle field between essentialist and non-substantialist significations. The presence of the American positive "gynocentric feminism" (Iris Young, Nancy Chodorow, and Carol Gilligan) vs. the universally emancipated subject is renegotiated today. Identity and difference are again problematized into "identities" and "differences" (6) within Derridean meaning indeterminacy and dislocated subjectivities. The question then returns to a full circle: do feminist postmodern identities of difference reaffirm an essentialist project? This is a useful collection of articles on challenging Franco-American representations of the feminine in Western philosophy, psychoanalysis, and French theories of discourse.

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