Hide menu



Postmodern Thinking and Feminist Research:
Feminism, Methodology, and Change.

November 23-25, 2005

Deadline for application:
October 1, 2005

Oslo University (Blindern), Norway

Prof. Sara Heinämaa (University of Oslo, University of Helsinki)
Prof. Tiina Rosenberg (University of Stockholm)
Prof. Ellen Mortensen (University of Bergen)

Prof. Sara Heinämaa - in collaboration with Research School leader Prof. Nina Lykke.

Course description:
The aim of this course is to gain a clear view of postmodern feminist thinking, its methodology and concepts of change. Traditionally, feminist research has been motivated and directed by the aims of gender equality and emancipation. These aims presuppose a normative notion of change. Thus, feminist researchers have asked: “How can we overcome injustice and the oppression of women?” and “What are the restrictions and obstacles of gender equality?”

The course looks at the historical limits of feminist tradition by inquiring into its most recent developments. It asks whether we have come to the end of feminist modernity or if we instead are witnessing a reawakening and a radical reinterpretation of the tradition.

We will do this by examining the methodological and conceptual resources of postmodern feminism. We will focus on its diverse ways of understanding and theorizing identity, difference, and change. This requires us to familiarize ourselves with the methods of destruction, deconstruction, and genealogy by studying a selection of basic methodological writings and their feminist applications and critiques.

Postmodern feminism is known by many keywords, such as “fragmented identities”, “heterogeneity” and “pluralism”. Postmodern feminists have criticized traditional notions of “subjectivity” and “essence” for their universalizing tendencies to exclude and marginalize everything which is different from ourselves. The notions of self and other, own and foreign, particular and universal are central in such arguments, and they need to be clarified if we want to understand the relationship between modern and postmodern feminism.

Thus, the course raises and discusses the following questions:
• What is involved in postmodern questions and methods? Knowledge or change? Social critique or self-critique?
• What conceptual potentials and models for change does postmodern thinking offer? Creation, destruction, mutation?
• Should feminists work for change in the sense of reform and revolution or in the sense of subversion and resistance?

Day 1:
12-13: Registration and lunch (main canteen, Frederikke)
13.00 -15.45: "Destruction and Genealogy: Two Starting Points of Post-Modern Thinking" by Sara Heinämaa and discussion (rom 233, Helga Engs Hus)
15.45-16.10: Coffee
16.10-18.10: Groups, students’ papers (gruppperom 6,3,5 in Georg Sverdrups Hus, university library)
19.00: Dinner at the university's main canteen

Day 2:
8.45: Coffee (grupperom 4, Georg Sverdrups Hus, university library)
9-12: “Destructive Ontology & the Aesthetic Construction of Gender” by Ellen Mortensen and discussion
12-13: Lunch at the main canteen
13-15: Groups, students' papers (same rooms as Day 1)
15-16: Coffee break
16-18: Groups, students’ papers
19.00 : Dinner at the main canteen

Day 3:
8.45: Coffee (undervisningsrom 2, Georg Sverdrups Hus, university library)
9-12: "Looking Back and Making Up? Queer Methodology and Historiography discussion” by Tiina Rosenberg and discussion
12-13 Lunch at the main canteen
13-15: Groups, students' papers (same rooms as Day 1)
15.00-16.00: Course evaluation


Benhabib, Seyla 1990: “Epistemologies of postmodernism: A rejoinder to Jean-François Lyotard,” in: Linda J. Nicholson (ed.): Feminism/Postmodernism, New York: Routledge (30pp.).

Butler, Judith 1993: "Imitation and Gender Insubordination",in: The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, New York: Routledge (pp. 307- 320+footnotes) (13pp)

Derrida, Jacques 2002: Positions, translated by Alan Bass, London: Continuu. (114pp.)

Derrida, Jacques 1978: Spurs, translated by Barbara Harlow, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. (70pp.).

Derrida, Jacques [1983] 2001: “Geschlecht: Sexual difference, ontological difference,” in Nancy J. Holland and Patricia Huntington (eds.): Feminist Interpretations of Heidegger, University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania University Press (pp. 53-73/20pp.).

Feder, Ellen K., Mary C. Rawlinson, and Emily Zakin (eds.): Derrida and Feminism, Chapters 2, 5, 6, New York and London: Routledge (80pp.)

Foucault, Michel [1977/84]: “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History” from The Foucault Reader by Paul Rabinow (ed.), New York: Pantheon Books, (pp. 76-101/25pp.)

Grosz, Elizabeth 1994: “Nietzsche and the Choreography of Knowledge”, in: Volatile Bodies: Towards a Corporeal Feminism. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press). p. 23

Halberstam, Judith 2005: "What's That Smell? Queer Temporalities and Subcultural Lives", in: In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives, New York University Press, (pp. 152-187 + footnotes) (35pp)

Heidegger, Martin: Being and Time, §1–6. (ca 30pp)

Hekman, Susan J. (ed.) 1996: Feminist Interpretations of Michel Foucault, Chapters 1–4, 10–11, University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania University Press, -articles by Fraser, Hartsock, Butler, McCallum, Lloyd, Allen – (140pp.)

Irigaray, Luce 1993: “Sexual Difference” from An Ethics of Sexual Difference, translated by Carolyn Burke and Gillian C. Gill. (Ithaca, N.Y., Cornell University Press). (pp. 5-20/15pp).

Lyotard, Jean-Françoise 1984: The Postmodern Condition, (110pp)

Scott, Joan W. 1993: "The Evidence of Experience", in: The Lesbian and GayStudies Reader, New York: Routledge, pp. 397-415 (18pp)

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky 2003: "Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading, or, You're So Paranoid, You Probably Think This Essay Is About You," in: Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity, Durham & London: Duke University Press, (pp. 123-188 + footnotes/65pp)

Stenstad, Gail 2001: “Revolutionary thinking,” in Nancy J. Holland and Patricia Huntington (eds.): Feminist Interpretations of Heidegger, University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania University Press, (pp. 334-351/20pp.)

Vicinus, Martha 1993: "They Wonder to Which Sex I belong": The Historical Roots of the Modern Lesbian Identity", in: The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, New York: Routledge, (pp. 432-452/20pp)

(Altogether 828 pages which is the required reading preparation for this course.)

A reader will be sent out to the participants. However, the participants must purchase or borrow the books by Derrida (1978 + 2002) and Lyotard (1984).

37 applicants, 24 participants + 3 guest participants: Denmark 3 (1 self-paying), Estonia 2, Finland 3, Iceland 1 (self-paying), Latvia 1, Lithuania 2, Norway 9 (6 self-paying, 2 grants from SKK), Poland 1, Sweden 3 (1 self-paying), Sweden/Germany 1 (self-paying), The Czech Republic 1

Page manager: elisabeth.samuelsson@liu.se
Last updated: Thu Jan 20 13:14:41 CET 2011