Feminist Interpretations of Maurice Merleau-Ponty (Re-Reading the Canon)

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9780271029184: Feminist Interpretations of Maurice Merleau-Ponty (Re-Reading the Canon)

More than sixty years ago, Simone de Beauvoir identified the importance of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s writings to feminist theory. His exploration of the relationship between the body and the space it inhabits is key to modern phenomenological thinking. But there has been little agreement on how Merleau-Ponty’s ideas ultimately have an impact on feminist philosophy. Does his emphasis on physical subjectivity lend a certain agency to all bodies, regardless of sex? Or do Merleau-Ponty’s specific descriptions of physical experience betray an intrinsic bias toward a male heterosexual point of view? The essays presented here by Olkowski and Weiss attempt to situate Merleau-Ponty in the larger context of feminist theory, while impartially evaluating his contributions, both positive and negative, to that theory.

In addition to the editors, the contributors are Jorella Andrews, David Brubaker, Judith Butler, Laura Doyle, Helen Fielding, Vicki Kirby, Sonia Kruks, Ann Murphy, Johanna Oksala, and Beata Stawarska.

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About the Author:

Dorothea Olkowski is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.

Gail Weiss is Director of the Human Sciences Program and Associate Professor of Philosophy at The George Washington University.


“This work is an important addition for specialists, but not geared to undergraduates.”

—A. B. Curry, Choice

“Through many original and a few reprinted pieces, this collection demonstrates that there still remains much to explore and develop with and against Merleau-Ponty’s corpus. Feminist Interpretations of Merleau-Ponty definitely provides much to think about and demonstrates, as Weiss writes, ‘new ways of doing philosophy.’”

—Emily S. Lee, APA Newsletter

“Exhibiting well the scope and diversity of feminist readings of Merleau-Ponty, the volume is an important contribution that will be of interest to theorists in many fields, while at the same time encouraging further specialized work in the area—something that may well benefit feminist philosophy, but will certainly enrich Merleau-Ponty studies.”

—Bryan Smyth, Philosophy in Review

“This is both a necessary book and a very good one. That this volume is not the perfect feminist source on Merleau-Ponty is not a negative judgment, given that it is currently the best to be found.”

—Nancy J. Holland, Dialogue

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