What is a Woman?: And Other Essays

Paperback | July 15, 2001

byToril Moi

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What is a woman? And what does it mean to be a feminist today? In her first full-scale engagement with feminist theory since her internationally renowned Sexual/Textual Politics (1985), Toril Moi challenges the dominant trends in contemporary feminist and cultural thought, arguing for afeminism of freedom inspired by Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex. Written in a clear and engaging style What is a Woman? brings together two brand new book-length theoretical interventions, Moi's work on Freud and Bourdieu, and her studies of desire and knowledge in literature.In the controversial title-essay, Toril Moi radically rethinks current debates about sex, gender, and the body - challenging the commonly held belief that the sex/gender distinction is fundamental to all feminist theory. Moi rejects every attempt to define masculinity and femininity, includingefforts to define femininity as that which 'cannot be defined'.In the second new book-length essay, 'I Am a Woman', Toril Moi reworks the relationship between the personal and the philosophical, pursuing ways to write theory that do not neglect the claims of the personal. Setting up an encounter between contemporary theory and Simone de Beauvoir, Moi radicallyrethinks the need, and difficulty, of finding one's own philosophical voice by placing it in new theoretical contexts.A sustained refusal to lay down theoretical or political requirements for femininity, and a powerful argument for a feminism of freedom, What is a Woman? is a deeply original contribution to feminist theory.

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What is a woman? And what does it mean to be a feminist today? In her first full-scale engagement with feminist theory since her internationally renowned Sexual/Textual Politics (1985), Toril Moi challenges the dominant trends in contemporary feminist and cultural thought, arguing for afeminism of freedom inspired by Simone de Beauvoir...

Toril Moi is James B. Duke Professor of Literature and Romance Studies at Duke University and author of the influential and best-selling Sexual/Textual Politics, (ed). The Kristeva Reader, and (ed) French Feminist Thought.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:544 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 1.18 inPublished:July 15, 2001Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198186754

ISBN - 13:9780198186755

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Table of Contents

PrefaceA Note on the TextPart I: A Feminism of Freedom: Simone de Beauvoir1. What is a Woman? Sex, Gender, and the Body in Feminist Theory2. I Am a Woman: The Personal and the PhilosophicalPart II: Appropriating Theory: Bourdieu and FreudIntroduction to Part II3. Appropriating Bourdieu: Feminist Theory and Pierre Bourdieu's Sociology of Culture4. The Challenge of the Particular Case: Bourdieu's Sociology of Culture and Literary Criticism5. The Missing Mother: Rene Girard's Oedipal Rivalries6. Representation of Patriarchy: Sexuality and Epistemology in Freud's iDora/i7. Patriarchal Thought and the Drive for Knowledge8. Is Anatomy Destiny? Freud and Biological DeterminismPart III: Desire and Knowledge: Reading Texts of LoveIntroduction to Part III9. Desire in Language: Andreas Capellanus and the Controversy of Courtly Love10. She Died Because She Came Too Late: Knowledge, Doubles and Death in Thomas's iTristan/i11. Intentions and Effects: Rhetoric and Identification in Simone de Beauvoir's iThe Woman Destroyed/iWorks citedIndex

Editorial Reviews

`[Moi is] one of the most astute and lucid critics writing today. What she calls her `attempt to work [her] way out from under post-structuralism, and to see what happens when one goes elsewhere'--a move undertaken in good faith as a feminist and with uncommon critical common sense--points away forward, both for literary critics and other feminists....[This book] could serve as a lucid introduction to recent theoretical debates, and also as a farewell to them....[Moi proceeds] through careful close readings, sensitive to both historical context and textual nuance....She offers theviews of even those she disagrees with with refreshing clarity.''Women's Review of Books