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Advanced Feminist Theory

If the generative moment of contemporary feminist theory can be traced to Simone de Beauvoir\'s The Second Sex (1949), then the past sixty-five years to the present constitute a truly turbulent epoch for feminism and feminist theorizing, given the contestations that have engulfed the academic field ever since Beauvoir declared "One is not born a woman but becomes one." The prevailing approach of this course is text interpretive, wide-ranging, and diversely thematic rather than narrowly focused or studiously chronological. Its primary aim is to identify and address some of the most significant zones of contestation that mark the dynamic interplay between and among "foundational" and recent texts - "arrivals, departures, and returns" - in feminist theory. In keeping with this notion we\'ll read selected works of 1970s-90s, including G Rubin ("The Traffic in Women"); N Hartsock ("The Feminist Standpoint"); P Hill Collins ("Defining Black Feminist Thought"); C MacKinnon ("Sexuality"); D Haraway ("A Manifesto for Cyborgs"); J Butler (Gender Trouble, selections); K Crenshaw ("Mapping the Margins"); L Irigaray ("Women on the Market"; "This Sex Which Is Not One"); U Narayan ("Contesting Cultures"); and G Spivak ("Can the Subaltern Speak?"). Running alongside these works, we\'ll read recent interventions (1990s-2017) that either complicate existing areas of inquiry (e.g. the "discursive/materialist"; "culture/nature"; "sex/gender"; and "feminist subject" debates) or endeavor to depart from them entirely. For example, in the area of new materialisms, K Barad ("Posthumanist Performativity"); in posthumanism, R Braidotti (The Posthuman, selections); in sexual difference, E Ziarek ("Labor of the Negative"), J Copjec ("Sexual Difference"); on material bodies and corporeality, E Wilson (Gut Feminism, selections); intersectionality, lesbian sexuality, black women\'s sexuality, J Nash ("Institutionalizing the Margins"), R Hennessy ("Desire as a Class Act"), H Spillers ("Interstices: A Small Drama of Words"); heteronormativity and queer theory, R Wiegman ("The Vertigo of Critique"), B Martin ("Sexualities Without Genders and Other Queer Utopias"); transnational feminisms, S Mahmood ("Feminism, Democracy and Empire"); on feminist politics beyond the subject question, L Zerilli (Feminism and the Abyss of Freedom, selections). To maintain some continuity across our investigations of these multiple themes and works we\'ll have regular recourse to the essays of M Wittig (The Straight Mind and Other Essays) and two recent books concerning the challenges that face (academic) feminism as a lived experience: R Wiegman, Object Lessons; and S Ahmed, Living a Feminist Life.