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Copy of What is feminism? Competing definitions of feminism in the West

Week 1.

What is feminism?


Competing definitions of feminism in the West

Questions to ponder whilst you read:

  • What are the different political traditions of feminism? Are terms such as radical, socialist and liberal adequate to describing different feminist outlooks?

  • How does feminism relate to other struggles for social justice?

  • How have definitions of feminism changed over time?

  • How should historians deploy ‘feminism’ as a historical term?

Preparatory Activity

To prepare for seminar: write a few lines to respond to each of the following:

  • What does feminism mean to you/how would you define it?
  • What kinds of feminism have you encountered in your own lives?
  • To what extent has feminism/gender featured on your degree so far?

Core Reading

Barbara Caine, English Feminism 1780-1980 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997) [a good place to start] ebook in library

Sally Haslanger, Nancy Tuana & Peg O’Conner, ‘Topics in Feminism’, The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (Summer 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.): online article [nice short overview – bit overly orientated towards United States but useful]

Futher Reading

Chijioke Obasi, ‘Africanist Sista Hood in Britain: Creating Our Own Pathways’, in Akwugo Emejulu & Francesca Sobande, To Exist is to Resist: Black Feminism in Europe (London: Pluto Press, 2019), 229- 242 (ebook in library)

Nancy F. Cott, N. F. (1987) The Grounding of Modern Feminism, (New Haven & London, Yale University Press). [Chapter 1 provides a good account of historical development of term] digitised

Daisy Hernandez & Bushra Rehman, Colonize This! Young Women of Color in Today’s Feminism (Berkeley: Seal Press, 2002) [again US orientated]

Lorna Finlayson, 'Travelling in the Wrong Direction', London Review of Books 41:13 (July 2019) [for a less historical but more up to the minute take.]

bell hooks, Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism (Boston: South End Press, 1981) digitised

Alice Walker, ‘Definitions of Womanist’, in Gloria Anzaldua (ed.) Making Face, Making Soul: Haciendo Caras (San Francisco: Aunt Lutte Books, 1990)