Introducing Feminist Materialisms

11/28/2011 19:00 - 12/01/2011 15:30

Applications should be sent to InterGender Managing Director Dr Pia Laskar


Unit of Gender Studies and the Posthumanities Hub, Linköping University, Sweden, in collaboration with InterGender (Swedish-International Research School in Interdisciplinary Gender Studies), Linköping University, Sweden.

Senior lecturer Pia Laskar, InterGender Managing Director, Linköping University,
Associate Professor Cecilia Åsberg, Director of the Posthumanities Hub, Linköping University
Professor Nina Lykke, Director of InterGender, Linköping University.

Stacy Alaimo, Professor, University of Texas at Arlington, USA
Nina Lykke, Professor, Linköping University, Sweden
Cecilia Åsberg, Associate Professor, Linköping University, Sweden

Issues of bodily materialities and material environments are important concerns for feminists and for feminist theorizing. Many different branches of feminism – sexual difference feminisms, cyborg feminisms, ecological feminisms, feminist marxism etc. - have grappled with these issues. In recent years, different names have been attached to overlapping endeavours to push feminist theorizing beyond the ’linguistic turn’ and a too exclusive focus on discursive aspects of gender/sex and other social categories – a focus which has generated a certain negligence of prediscursive aspects of bodies, transcorporeal relations between bodies and environments, non-human actors, the posthuman etc. These endeavours have been identified with names such as feminist materialism, material feminism, bodily materialism, feminist postconstructionism, even ’new’ materialism and ’the material turn’ etc.
Recent understandings of the human body, the natural world and physical materialities have propelled conceptual innovation and energetic revivals within feminist theory. Key to materialist feminist interludes in the ongoing research debates have been an insistence on the importance of materiality and its non-human agency. This has enabled groundbreaking work within philosophy, feminist theory, science and technology studies, cultural studies and other fields where the body and nature collapse theories and assumptions about the human, the non-human and what the object of study should be for the Humanities. In response to androcentrism and anthropocentrism, feminist scholars have turned to environmental studies, the sciences and to “posthumanities” in order to revisit the question: what does it mean to be human in these times, with bodies that are inextricably entangled with the physical world.
The course will provide a guided tour to current landscapes of feminist materialisms. It will point out how feminist materialisms do not represent an easy return to the modern idea of materialism as something essential and determining, and how feminist materialist theorists in a ’postconstructionist’ mode not only challenge and criticize, but also take inspirations from the productive language of discourse and text studies that has been of great importance for feminist, queer, and postcolonial researchers and activists.
Within this framework, the course will construct an arena for discussions of the implications of a feminist materialist ’turn’ – which theories, methodologies, research questions, and political issues are drawing attention to themselves as part of such a ’turn’?
This course occasions a careful study of the required reading on beforehand (including the anthology Material Feminism, edited by Stacy Alaimo and Susan Hekman 2009), the lectures and, most importantly, the questions and issues raised in the paper presentations and joint discussions. The required reading engages theoretical dimensions as well as empirical analyses. The students are asked to link these to the specific foci of their own research projects. It is by engaging feminist materialisms to ongoing research that this course entails a lively tour and an up-dated mapping exercise of the feminist materialisms in circulation in the contemporary research landscapes within interdisciplinary gender studies and beyond.

Arrival November 28
19.00 Joint dinner

Day 1 (Tuesday November 29)
8.30-9.00: Registration, coffee
9.00-9.15: Welcome to Tema Genus, InterGender Research School and the course. Including round of presentations.
9.15-10.15: Lecture - Cecilia Åsberg: Beyond the humanist imagination: Mapping posthumanities as feminist practices
10.15 -10.45: Coffee break
10.45-12.30: Discussion with Cecilia Åsberg in relation to the readings and the lecture
12.30-14.00 Lunch break, incl. time for a walk
14.00-16.15 (incl. coffee break, 15.00-15.30)
Group sessions with presentation and discussion of 2 students' papers
Group 1: chaired by Stacy Alaimo
Group 2: chaired by Cecilia Åsberg
Group 3: chaired by Nina Lykke
16.15-16.30 Break
16.30-18.30: Film screening of Todd Haynes' film ’Safe, about Multiple Chemical Sensitivity’ + discussion
19.30: Joint dinner

Day 2 (Wednesday November 30)
9.00-10.00: Lecture: Stacy Alaimo: Thinking Across Bodies, Substances, and Environments
10.00 -10.30: Coffee break
10.30-12.30: Discussion with Stacy Alaimo in relation to the readings and the lecture
12.30-14.00 Lunch and time for a walk
14.00-18.00 (incl coffee break, 15.00-15.30)
Group sessions with presentation and discussion of 4 students' papers
Group 1: chaired by Stacy Alaimo
Group 2: chaired by Cecilia Åsberg
Group 3: chaired by Nina Lykke
19.00 Joint dinner

Day 3 (Thursday December 1)
9.00-10.00: Lecture: Nina Lykke: Feminist Postconstructionism – On Continuities and Discontinuities in Feminist Theorizing
10.00 -10.30: Coffee break
10.30-12.30: Discussion with Nina Lykke in relation to the readings and the lecture
12.30-13.30: Lunch
13.30-14.30: Group sessions with presentation and discussion of 1 students' paper and wrap-up of group discussions
Group 1: chaired by Stacy Alaimo
Group 2: chaired by Cecilia Åsberg
Group 3: chaired by Nina Lykke
14.30-14.45 Coffee break
14.45-15.30 Course evaluation

• Ahmed, Sara (2008) “Open Forum Imaginary Prohibitions: Some Preliminary Remarks on the Founding Gestures of the `New Materialism'” European Journal of Women's Studies, 2008,15 (1): 23-39.
• Alaimo, Stacy and Susan Hekman (eds) (2009): Material Feminisms. Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, pp. 1-434.
• Barad, Karen. 1998. Getting Real: Technoscientific Practices and the Materialization of Reality. differences. A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 10, 2: 87-128.
• Barad, Karen (2011) “Nature’s Queer Performativity”, Qui Parle 19 (2): 121-158.
• Birke, Lynda, Mette Bryld, Nina Lykke (2004) “Animal Performances: An Exploration of Intersections between Feminist Science Studies and Studies of Human/Animal Relationships”, Feminist Theory, 5:2, s.167-183.
• Butler, Judith (1993): Bodies that Matter. Routledge, New York, pp. 1-57
• Butler, Judith (1994) “Against Proper Objects: Introduction” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 6 ( 2-3).
• Einstein, Gillian and Margrit Shildrick: “The Postconventional Body: Retheorizing Women’s Health”. Social Science and Medicine 69, 2009: 293-300.
• Franklin, Sarah (2006) “The Cyborg Embryo: Our Path to Transbiology”, Theory, Culture & Society Dec. 2006, 23 (7-8): 167-187.
• Elizabeth Grosz (2010): The Untimeliness of Feminist Theory, NORA – Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, 18:1, 48-51
• Haraway, Donna J. (1991) “A Manifesto for Cyborgs:”, in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Re-invention of Nature. (1991) Routledge.
• Haraway, Donna. 1991. Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective. Donna Haraway: Simians, Cyborgs and Women.
• The Reinvention of Nature, London: Free Association Books: 183-201. Reprint: Sandra Harding, ed. 2004. The Feminist Standpoint Theory Reader. Intellectual and Political Controversies. New York, London: Routledge: 81-101.
• Haraway, Donna. 1991. The Biopolitics of Postmodern Bodies: Constitution of Self in Immune System Discourse. Donna Haraway: Simians, Cyborgs and Women. The Reinvention of Nature, London: Free Association Books: 203-230.
• Kirby, Vicky. (2002) “When all that is solid melts into language: Judith Butler and the question of matter”, International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies, 17(4), 265-280.
• Lykke, Nina (2010) “The Timeliness of Post-Constructionism” NORA – Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, 18:2, 131-136.
• Lykke, Nina (2010): Feminist Studies. A Guide to Intersectional Theory, Methodology an Writing. Chapter 7-8-9, pp.106-163
Tuin, Iris van der (2011) New feminist materialisms – Review Essay. Women's Studies International Forum Volume 34, Issue 4, July-August 2011, pp. 271-277.
• Åsberg, Cecilia, Koobak, Redi and Ericka Johnson (2011) “Posthumanities is a feminist issue: Editorial” and “Beyond the humanist imagination”, NORA – Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, 19:4, pp. 213-229.
• Åsberg, Cecilia (2008) “A Feminist Companion to Post-humanities: A Review Essay” NORA: Nordic Journal of Feminist & Gender Research vol 16, no 4, 2008, pp. 264-269.
• Åsberg, Cecilia (2011) “Sexual Difference, Gender, and (Microscopic) Animals: A Commentary on Ebeling's ´Sexing the Rotifer´“ Society and Animals, 19:3 pp. 316-322.

The course will include two kinds of sessions:
1) lecture-discussion-sessions on the proposed readings. Course participants are expected to have read the relevant chapters/articles before the course.

2) group sessions with presentations of students' papers, where students are given the opportunity to present their doctoral research and receive comments from teachers and co-participants.
Participants will be divided into three working groups to make individual presentations and discuss research questions from their doctoral project.
Each of the three lecturers will have responsibility for one group each. Based on the research description, each participant is asked to make a presentation of her/his research project for 10-15 minutes, followed by 30 minutes for questions and discussion. All group participants are expected to read the papers of their fellow group members and be ready to give comments.

* Paper (2-5 pages describing research problems related to the PhD project of the participant) to be sent to InterGender Managing Director Pia Laskar ( AT THE LATEST TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE COURSE START; remember to mark it with your name and the course name.
* All participants are expected to read the papers of their fellow group members before the course and be ready to give comments in the group sessions.
* The students’ papers and some of the other readings for the course will be available to all the participants via our intra net.
 Books must be bought or borrow. More info on this will be given to registered participants.


* 15 pages (to be handed in at the latest 3 months after the course; one copy should be sent to the teacher, who is going to evaluate it, and one to InterGender Managing Director Pia Laskar The teacher has 3 months to evaluate the essay.

* The essay should strike a balance between addressing a theme, which have been part of course (lectures, discussions, reading material), and be relevant for the PhD research of the student.

* The essay should, moreover, be considered as an exercise in doing a written presentation to an academic readership, which is not familiar with the author's PhD research. It should constitute a whole and explain relevant contexts.


a) 7,5 ECTS Credits is given for active participation, including presentation of a short paper, 2-5 pages.

b) 15 ECTS Credits is given for active participation, including presentation of a short paper, 2-5 pages (as above) + essay (evaluated as pass/fail). An essay should be of 10-15 pages. The selected topic shall be related to the course content and readings.
The essay is to be sent to the teacher as well as to InterGender Managing Director Pia Laskar ( no later than 3 months after the final day of the course. Note that you can either be examined for 7,5 ECTS Credits or for 15 ECTS Credits.

Info on application, preparation, admission and grants can be found here.

Linköping University
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