CFP: Continental Feminist Theory


philoSOPHIA: a feminist society
5th Annual Meeting
Vanderbilt University
Nashville Tennessee

Thursday May 5th – Sunday May 8th, 2011

We welcome project proposals of works in progress that engage continental feminist theory and work done on major figures and themes from the continental feminist tradition, as well as feminist work inspired by continental philosophy more generally. We also strongly encourage interdisciplinary and innovative approaches that combine theoretical perspectives and situated reflections.

Extemporaneous presentations strongly encouraged, while reading papers is discouraged. The conference will have a variety of different kinds of session formats, including workshops, author-meets-critics, works in progress, round-table discussions of topics and/or recent books in Continental Feminism.

Guidelines for Submission:
1. Individual abstracts of approximately 750 words.
2. Panel proposals (500 words) with individual abstracts (750 words each). Panel proposals should include 3 panelists and 1 moderator.
3. Round-Table discussions. Proposals should include a topic (500 words indicating the importance of discussing a theme, or recent book published in the area of Continental Feminism), along with names of 3 people who will “kick off” the discussion, include the name of 1 moderator.
4. Author meets critics sessions. Proposals should include names of 1 moderator, 3 commentators and 1 respondent who is the author of a book published within the last 2 years.

Abstracts should be suitable for anonymous review. In a separate document, please include your name, affiliation, contact info, and a brief bio, along with the title of your presentation.

Please submit all proposals electronically to philosophia2011 AT For more information, visit go here or here.

What is Gay and Lesbian Philosophy? (And Who’s Writing It?)

In 2008, a piece appeared in Metaphilosophy titled “What is Gay and Lesbian Philosophy?” The article was co-written by six philosophers, and addressed “recent trends and major issues related to gay and lesbian philosophy” in ethics, religion, law, scientific research on sexuality, and metaphysics. It was also commissioned by officers of the Society for Lesbian and Gay Philosophy and the APA’s committee on the status of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered People in the Profession.

The piece (or pieces – it’s really six articles in one) starts from the premise that gay and lesbian philosophy is not a field of philosophy, like ethics or metaphysics, but a ‘subject matter’ relevant to any number of philosophical fields. And the six short articles demonstrate this point by covering a wide range of topics: the morality of homosexuality; the ethics of coming out and outing others; the legal history of homosexuality and same-sex unions in the states; the social construction of sexual identity and orientation; homosexuality and monotheistic religions; and whether sexuality (and homosexuality) should be the subjects of scientific research. It’s a great survey piece, and a useful resource for teaching, or for convincing colleagues that LGBT issues really do ‘count’ as sufficiently philosophical.

But to anyone versed in the feminist literature, there are some startling omissions – most obviously, the complete absence of lesbian-feminist writings in both the article’s content and in its citations. Familiar names like Marilyn Frye, Ann Ferguson, Sarah Lucia Hoagland, Monique Wittig, Claudia Card and Cheshire Calhoun are nowhere to be found, and neither are their insights. This is astonishing, given how much these figures have contributed to exactly the questions being asked: the social construction of gender and sexuality, the ethics of coming out or outing others, the ethics of sex and sexualities, and the legal status of same-sex unions and families. And although the papers’ authors claim that ‘gay’ should be understood as shorthand for LGBT, there is no attention to how these topics are complicated by bi and especially by trans perspectives, and equally little citation of recent trans writings. It’s hard not to connect these lacunae to some other problematic features – for example, calling same-sex marriages ‘homosexual marriages’, when not all same-sex marriages are between homosexuals but also bisexuals and other queer persons (neither are all opposite-sex marriages between heterosexuals, for that matter) – and to the fact that all the paper’s authors appear to be men.

How concerned should we be that something taking itself to be an answer to the question, “what is gay and lesbian philosophy?” pays so little attention to the debates and insights of lesbian-feminist philosophy? Can debates around homosexual identities (often, gay male identities) simply be extended to include lesbians, bisexuals and trans persons without transformation or adjustment? These are familiar, and by now, surely, old questions – a survey piece might reasonably be expected to address them. And what of the authors’ genders? The idea of doing critical philosophy, like the philosophy of sexuality, race, or disability, is presumably something more than an identity claim about the author – but if critical epistemology has taught us anything, it’s that the subject-position of the author is never entirely irrelevant, either. What gay and lesbian philosophy is may well depend on who is (seen to be) writing it.

Accidental Before and After

I’m so sorry that travel kept me from posting this sooner. Jezebel had a fabulous story:

Remember how Ann Taylor promised to “feature more real, beautiful images” after turning models into Stretch Armstrong dolls on its website? Well, they’ve started by adding some unretouched thumbnails that transform into ribless monstrosities when you click them.

To see for yourself, head to this page on Ann Taylor’s website and click on the image in the upper left corner…

As the page loads, you’ll get to see what the Chiffon Trim Tank looks like on a real woman for a few seconds. Then she shrinks into a awkward creature barely able to support the weight of her torso with her tiny child hips.

Sadly, it’s now been removed. But here’s a screen capture of the images in question.

(Thanks, Mr Jender!)

Stephen Fry & Deborah Cameron on gender & language

Today’s edition of  Stephen Fry’s “Fry’s Delight” on BBC Radio 4 is a discussion of “whether men and women really use and understand language differently.” It features a very interesting interview with Prof. Deborah Cameron of Oxford University. There is even an extended (18 minute) version of the interview half way down this page. I noticed that today’s Woman’s Hour also deals with gender issues, specifically, the same research mentioned in jj’s earlier post by Cordelia Fine and Lise Eliot about gender behaviour not being genetically pre-determined. It’s been heartening to read and hear so much about feminist issues in the UK media lately, though it is a shame it’s all happening in the so-called ‘silly season’ (i.e. August is always a slow news month because parliament isn’t in session and most people are on holiday). Then again, perhaps it’s easier to get people’s attention when you’re not competing with the Con-Dems. (Apologies if, as I suspect is the case, all this is only accessible to readers in the UK.)