Calendar of Events

Spring 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013
Linda Zerilli (Political Science, University of Chicago)
Book Cover: Feminism and the Abyss of Freedom
Feminism and the Abyss of Freedom
12:30 pm Curtin 939
Cosponsored with the Feminist Theory Research Workshop

In contemporary feminist theory, the problem of feminine subjectivity persistently appears and reappears as the site that grounds all discussion of feminism. In her book, Feminism and the Abyss of Freedom, Professor Zerilli argues that the persistence of this subject-centered frame severely limits feminists' capacity to think imaginatively about the central problem of feminist theory and practice: a politics concerned with freedom.

Offering both a discussion of feminism in its postmodern context and a critique of contemporary theory, Zerilli here challenges feminists to move away from a theory-based approach, which focuses on securing or contesting "women" as an analytic category of feminism, to one rooted in political action and judgment. She revisits the democratic problem of exclusion from participation in common affairs and elaborates a freedom-centered feminism as the political practice of beginning anew, world-building, and judging.

In a series of case studies, Zerilli draws on the political thought of Hannah Arendt to articulate a nonsovereign conception of political freedom and to explore a variety of feminist understandings of freedom in the twentieth century, including ones proposed by Judith Butler, Monique Wittig, and the Milan Women's Bookstore Collective. In so doing, Zerilli hopes to retrieve what Arendt called feminism's lost treasure: the original and radical claim to political freedom.

Linda Zerilli is the Charles E. Merriam Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and the College. She is currently Director of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality. Zerilli is the author of Signifying Woman (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994), Feminism and the Abyss of Freedom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), and articles on subjects ranging across feminist thought, the politics of language, aesthetics, democratic theory, and Continental philosophy. Her current book project is titled "Towards a Democratic Theory of Judgment." She has been a Fulbright Fellow, a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study, and a Stanford Humanities Center Fellow. Professor Zerilli has served on the executive committee of Political Theory and is currently serving on the editorial or advisory boards of Philosophy and Rhetoric, Constellations, and Culture,Theory and Critique.


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