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Butler, Judith, , . Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity
1999, Routledge.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Publisher’s note: Arguing that traditional feminism is wrong to look to a natural, ‘essential’ notion of the female, or indeed of sex or gender, Butler starts by questioning the category ‘woman’ and continues in this vein with examinations of ‘the masculine’ and ‘the feminine’. Best known however, but also most often misinterpreted, is Butler’s concept of gender as a reiterated social performance rather than the expression of a prior reality.

Comment: All of this book would be very useful for a feminist philosophy course, but chapter 1 in particular would be great to use for a unit on the metaphysics of gender, by considering Butler’s account of gender being performative, and how this links in with the social constructivist account of gender.

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Cahill, Ann J., , Jennifer Hansen (eds.). Continental Feminism Reader
2003, Rowman & Littlefield
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Added by: Alison Stone, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Ann J. Cahill and Jennifer Hansen collect the most groundbreaking recent work in Continental feminist theory, introducing and explaining pieces that are often mystifying to those outside the field and outside academia. With these essays, Continental Feminism Reader begins the process of reanimating feminist politics through the critical tools of its contributors.

Comment: A collection of essays that represent a range of continental-philosophy influenced approaches within feminism, for example with selections from the work of Judith Butler and Kelly Oliver. It could be used as the basis of a course on feminist philosophy if approaching it from a continental perspective, or separate chapters could be used as some of the readings.

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Davidson, Maria Del Guadalupe, Kathryn Sophia Belle (formerly known as Kathryn T. Gines), Marcano, Donna-Dale L. (eds). Convergences: Black Feminism and Continental Philosophy
2010, State University of New York Press.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Esther McIntosh

Publisher’s Note: A range of themes – race and gender, sexuality, otherness, sisterhood, and agency – run throughout this collection, and the chapters constitute a collective discourse at the intersection of Black feminist thought and continental philosophy, converging on a similar set of questions and concerns. These convergences are not random or forced, but are in many ways natural and necessary: the same issues of agency, identity, alienation, and power inevitably are addressed by both camps. Never before has a group of scholars worked together to examine the resources these two traditions can offer one another. By bringing the relationship between these two critical fields of thought to the forefront, the book will encourage scholars to engage in new dialogues about how each can inform the other. If contemporary philosophy is troubled by the fact that it can be too limited, too closed, too white, too male, then this groundbreaking book confronts and challenges these problems.

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Korsmeyer, Carolyn, , . Gender and Aesthetics: An Introduction
2004, London: Psychology Press.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Publisher’s note: Feminist approaches to art are extremely influential and widely studied across a variety of disciplines, including art theory, cultural and visual studies, and philosophy. Gender and Aesthetics is an introduction to the major theories and thinkers within art and aesthetics from a philosophical perspective, carefully introducing and examining the role that gender plays in forming ideas about art. It is ideal for anyone coming to the topic for the first time.

Organized thematically, the book introduces in clear language the most important topics within feminist aesthetics:

  • Why were there so few women painters?
  • Art, pleasure and beauty
  • Music, literature and painting
  • The role of gender in taste and food
  • What is art and who is an artist?
  • Disgust and the sublime.

Each chapter discusses important topics and thinkers within art and examines the role gender plays in our understanding of them. These topics include creativity, genius and the appreciation of art, and thinkers from Plato, Kant, and Hume to Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva. Also included in the book are illustrations from Gaugin and Hogarth to Cindy Sherman and Nancy Spero to clarify and help introduce often difficult concepts. Each chapter concludes with a summary and further reading and there is an extensive annotated bibliography.

Carolyn Korsmeyer’s style is refreshing and accessible, making the book suitable for students of philosophy, gender studies, visual studies and art theory, as well as anyone interested in the impact of gender on theories of art.

Comment: Chapter 5 is particularly useful in teaching on art theories. It offers an interesting review of art theories from a feminist perspective, noting the gendered character of existing definitions. It may be good to teach it alongside Brand’s ‘Glaring Omissions in Traditional Theories of Art’ to best bring out these issues. Secondly, it inspires the question: given the problematic exclusionary character of art history and theory, would it not be better if we did not have a definition of art which we can use to exclude? The value of the feminist art discussed in the chapter lies largely in its ability to expose the biases present in the artworld and expressed in theories of art. Thus the fact that artists tend to create works which challenge existing theories might be in fact desirable.

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