Feminist Philosophy and "the Master's Tools"
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Level: Graduate
Division: The New School for Social Research
Department: Politics
Course Number: GPOL 6409
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
  • Philosophy
  • Politics
  • Gender and Sexuality Studies
Feminist philosophy has always developed dialogically--in relation to the theoretical traditions surrounding it. Feminist thinkers have necessarily had to articulate their views in relation to those traditions. Often this has meant criticizing philosophical traditions that were explicitly sexist and/or implicitly androcentric. Equally often, however, feminist thinkers have borrowed from surrounding traditions, sometimes by applying their concepts and methods to previously neglected issues concerning gender, sometimes by reconstructing their concepts and methods in more "woman-friendly" and/or gender-critical forms. Such borrowings have in turn provoked controversy. It has been claimed, in the widely quoted words of Audre Lorde, that "you cannot use the master's tools to dismantle the master's house." In this seminar, we evaluate Lorde's claim, by surveying the contested, often conflictual relations between Western (especially U. S.) feminist theory and several of its most important theoretical dialogue partners, namely, republicanism, liberalism, romanticism, Marxism, critical race theory, anti-imperialist/postcolonial theory, psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, and analytic philosophy. We seek to determine how best to engage, transform, or transcend aspects of these various traditions in light of current feminist dilemmas. In each case, we shall read representative texts of the tradition along with various feminist responses to them, responses ranging from rejection to appropriation to reconstruction. Through this means we shall examine many issues at the center of feminist debates today, including: equality and difference; rationalism and romanticism; the intersection of gender subordination with subordination by class, race, sexuality and nationality; materialism and discourse analysis; identity politics and deconstruction.
Course Open to: Degree Students with Restrictions


Not open to Undergraduate students.