To have no time, to tirelessly do more at once, to become increasingly flexible, to constantly change goals, plans, preferences—and to earn less and less. All this characterises neoliberal work and life. And furthermore, it describes central aspects of subjectivation in an economy of debt.
The Techno-Apparatus of Bodily Production A New Materialist Theory of Technology and the Body
Columbia UP, 2019
What if the terms “technology” and “the body” did not refer to distinct phenomena interacting in one way or another? What if we understood their relationship as far more intimate—technologies as always already embodied, material bodies as always already technologized? What would it mean, then, to understand the relationship between technology and the body as a relation of indeterminacy? Expanding on the concept of the apparatus of bodily production in the work of Donna Haraway and Karen Barad, Josef Barla explores how material bodies along with their boundaries, properties, and mean- ings performatively materialize at sites where technological, biological, technoscientific, (bio-)political, and economic forces intra-act.
Homeland Maternity: US Security Culture and the New Reproductive Regime
U of Illinois P, 2019
In US security culture, motherhood is a site of intense contestation both a powerful form of cultural currency and a target of unprecedented assault. Linked by an atmosphere of crisis and perceived vulnerability, motherhood and nation have become intimately entwined, dangerously positioning national security as reliant on the control of women’s bodies. Drawing on feminist scholarship and critical studies of security culture, Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz explores homeland maternity by calling our attention to the ways that authorities see both nonreproductive and “overly” reproductive women’s bodies as threats to social norms and thus to security. Homeland maternity culture intensifies motherhood’s requirements and works to discipline those who refuse to adhere. Analyzing the opt-out revolution, public debates over emergency contraception, and other controversies, Fixmer-Oraiz compellingly demonstrates how policing maternal bodies serves the political function of securing the nation in a time of supposed danger with profound and troubling implications for women’s lives and agency.
Sexuality, Disability and Aging: Queer Temporalities of the Phallus
Duke UP, 2019
Drawing on her own experiences with late-onset disability and its impact on her sex life, along with her expertise as a cultural critic, Jane Gallop explores how disability and aging work to undermine one’s sense of self. She challenges common conceptions that equate the decline of bodily potential and ability with a permanent and irretrievable loss, arguing that such a loss can be both temporary and positively transformative. With Sexuality, Disability, and Aging, Gallop explores and celebrates how sexuality transforms and becomes more queer in the lives of the no longer young and the no longer able while at the same time demonstrating how disability can generate new forms of sexual fantasy and erotic possibility.
Gill, Tiffany and Blain, Keisha
To Turn the Whole World Over: Black Women and Internationalism
U of Illinois P, 2019
Black women undertook an energetic and unprecedented engagement with internationalism from the late nineteenth century to the 1970s. In many cases, their work reflected a complex effort to merge internationalism with issues of women’s rights and with feminist concerns. To Turn the Whole World Over examines these and other issues with a collection of cutting-edge essays on black women’s internationalism in this pivotal era and beyond. Analyzing the contours of gender within black internationalism, scholars examine the range and complexity of black women’s global engagements. At the same time, they focus on these women’s remarkable experiences in shaping internationalist movements and dialogues. The essays explore the travels and migrations of black women; the internationalist writings of women from Paris to Chicago to Spain; black women advocating for internationalism through art and performance; and the involvement of black women in politics, activism, and global freedom struggles.
Gilligan, Carol and Snider, Naomi
Why Does Patriarchy Persist?
Polity Press, 2018
The election of an unabashedly patriarchal man as US President was a shock for many: despite decades of activism on gender inequalities and equal rights, how could it come to this? What is it about patriarchy that seems to make it so resilient and resistant to change? Undoubtedly it persists in part because some people benefit from the unequal advantages it confers, but is that it? Is that enough to explain its stubborn persistence? In this highly original and persuasively argued book, Carol Gilligan and Naomi Snider put forward a different view: they argue that patriarchy persists because it serves a psychological function. By requiring us to sacrifice love for the sake of hierarchy, patriarchy protects us from the vulnerability of loving and becomes a defense against loss. By uncovering the powerful psychological mechanisms that underpin patriarchy, they are able to show that forces beyond our awareness may be driving a politics that otherwise seems inexplicable.
This new book, co-authored by one of the world’s most influential feminist thinkers, will be of great interest to anyone who is concerned about our messy psycho-political times.
Designing Disability: Symbols, Space, and Society
Bloomsbury Press, 2017
Designing Disability traces the emergence of an idea and an ideal— physical access for the disabled—through the evolution of the iconic International Symbol of Access (ISA). The book draws on design history, material culture and recent critical disability studies to examine not only the development of a design icon, but also the cultural history surrounding it. Infirmity and illness may be seen as part of human experience, but ‘disability’ is a social construct, a way of thinking about and responding to a natural human condition. Elizabeth Guffey’s highly original and wide-ranging study considers the period both before and after the introduction of the ISA, tracing the design history of the wheelchair, a product which revolutionised the mobility needs of many disabled people from the 1930s onwards. She also examines the rise of ‘barrier-free architecture’ in the reception of the ISA, and explores how the symbol became widely adopted and even a mark of identity for some, especially within the Disability Rights Movement. Yet despite the social progress which is inextricably linked to the ISA, a growing debate has unfurled around the symbol and its meanings. The most vigorous critiques today have involved guerrilla art, graffiti and studio practice, reflecting new challenges to the relationship between design and disability in the twenty-first century.
Film Bodies: Queer Feminist Encounters with Gender and Sexuality in Cinema
Bloomsbury Press, 2017
The representation of gender and sexuality is well-explored territory in film studies. In Film Bodies, Katharina Lindner takes existing debates into a new direction and integrates queer and feminist theory with film phenomenology. Film Bodies explores the female body’s presence in a range of genres including the dance film, the sports film and queer cinema. Moving across mainstream and independent cinema, Lindner provides detailed ‘textural’ analyses of Black Swan, The Tango Lesson, 2 Seconds, Offside, Tomboy and Girlhood and discusses the queer feminist encounters these films can give rise to. This provocative book is of vital interest to students and researchers of queer cinema, queer/feminist theory, embodiment and affect and offers a unique new way of understanding the relationship between queerness, feminism, the body and cinema.
Mendes, Kaitlynn, et al.
Digital Feminist Activism Girls and Women Fight Back Against Rape Culture
Oxford UP, 2019
• Draws on a wide range of empirical data, including over 800 pieces of digital data and interviews with hard-to-access groups.
• Mobilizes key theories from feminist and digital media studies, including “affective solidarity” and “affective publics” to demonstrate how digital feminist activism works in the everyday lives of participants.
• Combines interdisciplinary methods, including qualitative content analysis, thematic textual analysis, and ethnographic methods such as in-depth interviews, group interviews, surveys, and close-observations of online communities.
Shimmering Images: Trans Cinema, Embodiment, and the Aesthetics of Change
Duke UP, 2019
In Shimmering Images Eliza Steinbock traces how cinema offers alterna- tive ways to understand gender transitions through a specific aesthetics of change. Drawing on Barthes’s idea of the “shimmer” and Foucault’s notion of sex as a mirage, the author shows how sex and gender can appear mirage-like on film, an effect they label shimmering. Steinbock applies the concept of shimmering—which delineates change in its emergent form as well as the qualities of transforming bodies, images, and affects—to analyses of films that span time and genre. These include examinations of the fantastic and phantasmagorical shimmerings of sex change in Georges Méliès’s nineteenth-century trick films and Lili Elbe’s 1931 autobiographical writings and photomontage in Man into Woman. Steinbock also explores more recent documentaries, science fiction, and pornographic and experimental films. Presenting a cinematic philosophy of transgender embodiment that demonstrates how shimmering images mediate transitioning, Steinbock not only offers a corrective to the gender binary orientation of feminist film theory; they open up new means to understand trans ontologies and epistemologies as emergent, affective, and processual.
Subject to Reality: Women and Documentary Film
U of Illinois P, 2019
Revolutionary thinking around gender and race merged with new film technologies to usher in a wave of women’s documentaries in the 1970s. Driven by the various promises of second-wave feminism, activist filmmakers believed authentic stories about women would bring more people into an imminent revolution. Yet their films soon faded into obscurity. Shilyh Warren reopens this understudied period and links it to a neglected era of women’s filmmaking that took place from 1920 to 1940, another key period of thinking around documentary, race, and gender. Drawing women’s cultural expression during these two explosive times into conversation, Warren reconsiders key debates about subjectivity, feminism, realism, and documentary and their lasting epistemological and material consequences for film and feminist studies. She also excavates the lost ethnographic history of women’s documentary filmmaking in the earlier era and explores the political and aesthetic legacy of these films in more explicitly feminist periods like the Seventies. Filled with challenging insights and new close readings, Subject to Reality sheds light on a profound and unexamined history of feminist documentaries while revealing their influence on the filmmakers of today.
This article argues that Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood (1936), despite partly subscribing to a Freudian model of homosexuality based on inversion, simultaneously demonstrates a concept of sexuality and identity that gestures outwards. Nightwood’s characters display excesses of meaning and are located outside of—rather than arrested in—linear heteronormative time. The novel’s sexual and identarian incoherencies create a sense of temporal dislocation and, in Barnes’ dense stylistics, characters that verge on linguistic illegibility. This article analyses the dynamics of (sexual) identity in the novel, and in doing so, attempts to highlight the potentialities of Nightwood for contemporary feminist and queer discourses.
This paper takes Emma Woolf’s memoir An Apple a Day as a case study to look at the relationship between feminism and anorexia. Reading the memoir in this context lays bare the ways in which the feminist model fails to understand Woolf’s lived illness experience. Through looking at Woolf’s personal aetiology theory, the stigma around anorexia and mental illness, contemporary gender roles and beauty ideals, and conceptualisations of health and illness, it becomes clear that anorexia cannot be understood in a single interpretational framework. In her memoir, Woolf is speaking back to larger narratives about anorexia.*
*The author explores the lived experience of anorexia in more detail in her MA thesis, which was awarded the UU Best Master’s Thesis Award 2019.
In this essay, I explore how my friendship with the writer Maggie Nelson helped to sustain me in the two years immediately following a catastrophic accident that paralyzed me. In the years since, she has continued to help me reckon with profound loss, as her writing assures me that it is possible to represent both what has been lost and what remains. Odd as it may seem, of her many books, Jane: A Murder is the greatest comfort to me in its stark confrontation with irreparable loss and ongoing grief. Jane was her mother’s sister, killed before Maggie was born.
Muriel Spark’s The Driver’s Seat (1970) is often approached simply as a narrative puzzle. Examining it in relation to #MeToo rhetoric and recent work by feminist scholars including Kate Manne and Linda Martín Alcoff, as well as examining its unacknowledged inspiration from giallo films, provides an opportunity to reconsider Spark’s complicated portrayal of agency and bodily experience, especially as it is perceived in the classroom. Spark’s novel questions the possibility of writing female bodies in an age, and a form, that is dominated by misogynistic representations, and how the reception of such novels is often determined by cultural trends.
How can we bring two feminist bodies of work that operate through different media into meaningful conversation with one another? Using Fournier’s framework of autotheory, we work through this question by reading Sara Ahmed’s critical theory and Phoebe Boswell’s creative practice connectively, tracing intersectional feminist pedagogies and key concepts common to both as we go. Instead of applying critical theory to creative practices, we use creative practices as a tool to better understand how theory can be in ‘touch’ with the world. Co-writing this article is an initial step in seeking out the creative and embodied aspects of our own practice as feminist researchers.
This essay compares the feminized subjectivity and agency that is represented in Lena Dunham’s 2014 coming-of-age memoir, Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s ‘Learned’, to the more complex depictions found in the dramatic comedy of her fictional show, Girls. In its production of a self who progresses towards self-knowledge, the memoir is inextricably shaped by the fantasies of neoliberal feminist individualism. In Girls, on the other hand, Dunham represents the contradictions of this kind of subject formation, thus exposing the frictions of contemporary liberal feminism.
This article analyses Marta Minujín’s Parthenon of Books as it was realised during the Documenta 14 exhibition in Kassel, Germany (2017). Many of the books used to construct the Parthenon were banned by religious institutions, which raises the question of the role of blasphemy laws and blasphemy-related censorship in today’s Western democracies, as such laws limit the freedom of expression as laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). We analyse how Minujín’s artwork contributes to existing campaigns for the abolition of blasphemy laws, arguing that while its message is not limited to blasphemy-related censorship, its critical stance towards religious censorship is an undertone that cannot be denied.
This article analyzes how a Dutch museum for Christian heritage uses objects to construct narratives about the entanglements of Christianity and Dutch history. The exhibition “Christianity in the Netherlands” presents a specific postsecular narrative, which positions its audience in a political discourse that emphasizes the Christian tradition of the Netherlands, but is potentially exclusionary to part of its audience. This article analyzes the exhibition and argues that viewing practices, and the sacralization of art and heritage figure into the construction of a national Dutch identity which privileges a specific cultural form of Christianity.
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