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French Feminism

Lecturer: Joanne Faulkner

Originally Taught: Summer School 2007

This course will introduce the work of some notable thinkers in the fieldbroadly known as ‘French feminism’: Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva, Michèle Le Doeuff, Hélène Cixous, and Sarah Kofman. While each of these philosophers resists assimilation to a particular school of thought, all have posed critical questions of philosophy as it is traditionally understood and have done so from a perspective distinct from those of recent philosophical agents provocateurs such as Derrida or Deleuze. Specifically, they have each shown how works of philosophy, from Plato to Heidegger, are written from a masculine perspective and for a masculine audience. Two of the most significant points the course aims to cover will be the peculiar relationship of Irigaray et. al. to more mainstream French philosophy and the crucial differences between French feminism and Anglo-American feminism. The material will be aimed at advanced undergraduate and honours level students and presumes some prior knowledge of French feminist thought.

Monday: Introduction—Simone de Beauvoir’s legacy, and woman as ‘Other’
Tuesday: French feminism and psychoanalysis (Irigaray, Kristeva, Cixous, and Kofman)
Wednesday: The French feminist’s relation to the philosopher (Nietzsche, Plato): daughter, lover, wife, or friend? (Irigaray, Kofman)
Thursday: The philosophical imaginary (Le Doeuff, Irigaray on Heidegger)
Friday: Conclusion—The limits and possibilities of a French feminism; discussion