81969 - Feminist Critiques of Political and Social Thought (1) (LM)

Course Unit Page

SDGs

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Gender equality

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students will acquire a knowledge of the ways in which women had historically criticized the theoretical justification of their subordination articulated in Western political and social thought. By applying the fundamental tools of feminist and post-colonial theories, the course will provide an historical analysis of political and social concepts – such as authority, freedom, rights, citizenship, society, labor – as the expression of gendered relations of power.

Course contents

Male domination, social reproduction, liberation: feminist critiques of capitalism, science and technology

The aim of the course is to analyse some of the most recent and significant feminist critiques of capitalist society, science and technology. The understanding and contestation of the patriarchal foundation of global capitalism articulated by Marxist, black and post-colonial feminists between the 1970s and 1980s will be the starting point to critically read the most recent feminist positions on information technologies. Through a close reading of the texts, the tension between the recognition of the role played by technology in the reproduction of social relations of domination and the ambition to appropriate its liberating potential will be brought to light. Within this polemical framework, the course will show how feminist criticism invests the political semantics articulated around the conceptual pairs nature/culture, sex/gender, production/reproduction, material/symbolic, tradition/progress, universal/partial.

PROVISIONAL WEEKLY SCHEDULE:

Week 1: Introduction to the course; Shulamith Firestone.

Week 2: Maria Rosa Dalla Costa and Selma James; bell hooks.

Week 3: Chandra Talpade Mohanty; Gayatry Chakravorty Spivak.

Week 4: Donna Haraway; Silvia Federici.

Week 5: Sadie Plant; Safia Umoja Noble.

Readings/Bibliography

Attending students

Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending.

A) Introductory text (compulsory for all attending students):

Judy Wajcman, TechnoFeminism, Cambridge, Polity Press, 2004.

B) One of the following texts or groups of texts (students can also use other editions of the same text):

1) Shulamith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex. The Case for Feminist Revolution (1970), London, Verso, 2015.

2)

— Maria Rosa Dalla Costa, Selma James, The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community (1972), Falling Wall Press Limited, 1975.

— Silvia Federici, Re-Enchanting the World: Feminism and the Politics of the Commons, PM Press, 2018.

3) bell hooks, Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, Boston, MA, South End, 1981.

4) Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Feminism without Borders. Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, Durham, Duke University Press, 2003

5)

— Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Feminism and Critical Theory” (1985), in Landry Donna ‒ MacLean Gerald (eds.), The Spivak Reader, Routledge, New York & London 1996, pp. 53-74.

— Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “French Feminism in an International Frame” (1981), in Spivak Gayatri Chakravorty, In Other Words. Essays in Cultural Politics, Methuen, New York and London 1987, pp. 134-153.

— Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Scattered Speculations on the Question of Value” (1985), in Landry Donna ‒ MacLean Gerald (eds.), The Spivak Reader, Routledge, New York & London 1996, pp. 107-140.

— Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Subaltern Talk. Interview with the Editors”, in Landry Donna ‒ MacLean Gerald (eds.), The Spivak Reader, Routledge, New York & London 1996, pp. 287-308.

6) Donna Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. The Reinvention of Nature, Routledge, 1991.

7) Sadie Plant, Zeroes + Ones. Digital Women and the New Technoculture, Harper Collins, 1998.

8) Safiya Umoja Noble, Algorithms of Oppression. How Search Engines Reinforce Racism, New York, New York University Press, 2018.

Non attending students

A) Introductory texts (compulsory for all non attending students)

— Lorna Finlayson, An Introduction to Feminism, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2016.

Judy Wajcman, TechnoFeminism, Cambridge, Polity Press, 2004.

B) Two of the following texts or group of texts (students can also use other editions of the same texts):

1) Shulamith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex. The Case for Feminist Revolution (1970), London, Verso, 2015.

2)

— Maria Rosa Dalla Costa, Selma James, The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community (1972), Falling Wall Press Limited, 1975.

— Silvia Federici, Re-Enchanting the World: Feminism and the Politics of the Commons, PM Press, 2018.

3) bell hooks, Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, Boston, MA, South End, 1981.

4) Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Feminism without Borders. Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, Durham, Duke University Press, 2003

5)

— Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Feminism and Critical Theory” (1985), in Landry Donna ‒ MacLean Gerald (eds.), The Spivak Reader, Routledge, New York & London 1996, pp. 53-74.

— Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “French Feminism in an International Frame” (1981), in Spivak Gayatri Chakravorty, In Other Words. Essays in Cultural Politics, Methuen, New York and London 1987, pp. 134-153.

— Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Scattered Speculations on the Question of Value” (1985), in Landry Donna ‒ MacLean Gerald (eds.), The Spivak Reader, Routledge, New York & London 1996, pp. 107-140.

— Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Subaltern Talk. Interview with the Editors”, in Landry Donna ‒ MacLean Gerald (eds.), The Spivak Reader, Routledge, New York & London 1996, pp. 287-308.

6) Donna Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. The Reinvention of Nature, Routledge, 1991.

7) Sadie Plant, Zeroes + Ones. Digital Women and the New Technoculture, Harper Collins, 1998.

8) Safiya Umoja Noble, Algorithms of Oppression. How Search Engines Reinforce Racism, New York, New York University Press, 2018.

Teaching methods

Teaching method will be based on frontal lessons. Discussion among students regarding the reading list as well as the topics presented in classwork will be strongly encouraged.

Assessment methods

Attending students will write a final paper (between 3000 and 5000 words, including notes and references) on the texts or groups of texts chosen from the reference list. The paper should be sent to the teacher one week before the exam. The paper will not be discussed during an oral evaluation. The teacher will communicate the rate to the students.

Non attending students will have to pass an oral exam based on the texts chosen from the reference list, with questions aimed to verify the student's knowledge of the themes treated in the program's texts.

In all cases, the assessment will concentrate particularly on the skill displayed by the student in handling the sources and material in the exam bibliography and his ability to find and use information and examples to illustrate and correlate the various themes and problems addressed in the course and discussed during the frontal lectures (only for attending students). It will be also assessed the capacity of a student to display an overall understanding of the topics discussed during the lectures, combined with a critical approach to the material and a confident and effective use of the appropriate terminology.

The assessment will thus examine the student's:

— factual knowledge of the subject;

— ability to summarise and analyse themes and concepts;

— familiarity with the terminology associated with the subject and his ability to use it effectively.

Proper language, factual knowledge of the subject and the ability to both expose synthetically and critically speak about the choosen topic or the contents of the chosen texts will lead to a good/excellent final grade

Acceptable language and the ability to resume the contents of the chosen texts will lead to a sufficient/fair grade.

Insufficient linguistic proficiency and fragmentary knowledge of the chosen topic or the contents of the chosen texts will lead to a failure in passing the exam.

Office hours

See the website of Paola Rudan