Vanessa Bell, Conversation

Introduction to Feminist Theory: Gender, Sexuality, and the Body

Instructor: Theodra Bane
This is an online course (Eastern Time)

What does it mean to be a “feminist”? To whom does the designation belong? And what does it entail—in political, economic, and social terms? For ways of experiencing, knowing, and acting in the world? And as a theoretical position in and of itself? Feminism, now broadly deployed in every imaginable sphere of discourse, has accrued over time a remarkable diversity of meanings—epistemological, political, economic, and social—in accordance with the expanding constituencies to whom it pertains. But is there a specifically “feminist” way of understanding and working through such categories as the social, the political, the economic, and the epistemic? If so, what is it? If not, why not?

In this course, we will undertake a historical survey of feminist theory, reading contemporary feminist thought in tandem—and, at times, in contest—with foundational feminist writings of the past fifty years. How has each successive generation of feminists constituted these categories anew, revitalizing some and strategically reconceiving others in order to meet changing demands and account for a plurality of perspectives? How has feminist theory itself been cast as a terrain where meanings and categories remain, when not stridently contested, fundamentally contestable—from the relationship between “woman” and “gender” as social categories to the term “feminist” as a political designation? Reading widely from works by Audre Lorde, Judith Butler, Simone de Beauvoir, Maria Lugones, Marilyn Frye, bell hooks, Nancy Tuana, Patricia Hill Collins, Carol Pateman, Mikki Kendall, and others, we’ll ask: How does being sexed and gendered impact our experience and ways of knowing? What is the meaning of “difference,” and what bearing does it have on political concepts? How might we account for difference across a broad, shared category like feminist? And how might we become theorists of our own lived experiences?

Course Schedule

Sunday, 2:00-5:00pm ET
September 17 — October 08, 2023
4 weeks


Registration Open

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