Cover image for Feminist Interpretations of Jane Addams Edited by Maurice Hamington

Feminist Interpretations of Jane Addams

Edited by Maurice Hamington

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$98.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-03693-9

$41.95 | Paperback Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-03694-6

352 pages
6" × 9"
2010

Re-Reading the Canon

Feminist Interpretations of Jane Addams

Edited by Maurice Hamington

“This well-crafted collection of essays recognizes Jane Addams as the inspiring and occasionally provocative feminist she was. Connecting Addams’s pragmatism to social theory, political philosophy, queer theory, postcolonial theory, and more, the book’s twelve authors sympathetically and critically explore Addams’s ongoing relevance to issues of art, culture, sexuality, prostitution, religion, cosmopolitanism, public/private divisions, and community organization. Scholarly experts on Addams, as well as those discovering her feminist pragmatism for the first time, will find this volume valuable.”

 

  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Bio
  • Table of Contents
  • Sample Chapters
  • Subjects
Although Jane Addams’s Twenty Years at Hull-House is considered an American classic, her dozen books and hundreds of published articles have sometimes been thought of as quaint examples of an overly optimistic era. Beginning in the 1990s, feminist scholars rediscovered the vitality of Addams’s social philosophy and challenged the marginalization of her ideas. Today, following a war-laden twentieth century and the failure of militarism and “get tough” approaches to solve domestic and global problems, Addams’s social theorizing, which emphasizes cosmopolitan experiences and sympathetic connections, provides a provocative alternative to Western notions of individualism, transactional relations, and spectator epistemology. Feminist Interpretations of Jane Addams brings together many of the leading Addams scholars in North America to consider Addams’s ongoing relevance to feminist thought.

Aside from the editor, the contributors are Victoria Bissell Brown, Marilyn Fischer, Judith M. Green, Shannon Jackson, Katherine Joslin, Louise W. Knight, L. Ryan Musgrave Bonomo, Wendy Sarvasy, Charlene Haddock Seigfried, Eleanor J. Stebner, and Judy D. Whipps.

“This well-crafted collection of essays recognizes Jane Addams as the inspiring and occasionally provocative feminist she was. Connecting Addams’s pragmatism to social theory, political philosophy, queer theory, postcolonial theory, and more, the book’s twelve authors sympathetically and critically explore Addams’s ongoing relevance to issues of art, culture, sexuality, prostitution, religion, cosmopolitanism, public/private divisions, and community organization. Scholarly experts on Addams, as well as those discovering her feminist pragmatism for the first time, will find this volume valuable.”
“Maurice Hamington has brought together an exciting, readable, and intellectually challenging group of articles on Jane Addams. The holistic approach of several essays highlights Addams’s own views, which linked people’s well-being, human rights, women’s equality, democracy, and world peace. The collection will delight Addams’s admirers and enlighten her detractors.”
Feminist Interpretations of Jane Addams forms a valuable resource for scholars interested in pragmatism and feminism but crucially also constitutes an instance of canonical re-reading, which lovers of philosophy more generally benefit from.”

Maurice Hamington is Associate Professor of Women's Studies and Philosophy at Metropolitan State College of Denver.

Contents

Preface

Introduction

Part 1: Culture and Art

1. Reading Jane Addams in the Twenty-first Century

Katherine Joslin

2. Cultural Contradictions: Jane Addams’s Struggles with the Life of Art and the Art of Life

Charlene Haddock Seigfried

3. Trojan Women and Devil Baby Tales: Addams on Domestic Violence

Marilyn Fischer

4. Addams’s Philosophy of Art: Feminist Aesthetics and Moral Imagination at Hull House

L. Ryan Musgrave Bonomo

Part 2: Sex and Society

5. Sex and the City: Jane Addams Confronts Prostitution

Victoria Bissell Brown

6. Toward a Queer Social Welfare Studies: Unsettling Jane Addams

Shannon Jackson

7. Love on Halsted Street: A Contemplation on Jane Addams

Louise W. Knight

Part 3: Religion and Politics

8. The Theology of Jane Addams: Religion “Seeking Its Own Adjustment”

Eleanor J. Stebner

9. Social Democracy, Cosmopolitan Hospitality, and Intercivilizational Peace: Lessons from Jane Addams

Judith M. Green

10. Community Organizing: Addams and Alinsky

Maurice Hamington

11. Examining Addams’s Democratic Theory Through a Postcolonial Feminist Lens

Judy D. Whipps

12. Engendering Democracy by Socializing It: Jane Addams’s Contribution to Feminist Political Theorizing

Wendy Sarvasy

Selected Bibliography

List of Contributors

Index

Preface

Nancy Tuana

Take into your hands any history of philosophy text. You will find compiled therein the “classics” of modern philosophy. Since these texts are often designed for use in undergraduate classes, the editor is likely to offer an introduction in which the reader is informed that these selections represent the perennial questions of philosophy. The student is to assume that she or he is about to explore the timeless wisdom of the greatest minds of Western philosophy. No one calls attention to the fact that the philosophers are all men.

Although women are omitted from the canons of philosophy, these texts inscribe the nature of woman. Sometimes the philosopher speaks directly about woman, delineating her proper role, her abilities and inabilities, her desires. Other times the message is indirect—a passing remark hinting at women’s emotionality, irrationality, unreliability.

This process of definition occurs in far more subtle ways when the central concepts of philosophy—reason and justice, those characteristics that are taken to define us as human—are associated with traits historically identified with masculinity. If the “man” of reason must learn to control or overcome traits identified as feminine—the body, the emotions, the passions—then the realm of rationality will be one reserved primarily for men, with grudging entrance to those few women who are capable of transcending their femininity.

Feminist philosophers have begun to look critically at the canonized texts of philosophy and have concluded that the discourses of philosophy are not gender-neutral. Philosophical narratives do not offer a universal perspective, but rather privilege some experiences and beliefs over others. These experiences and beliefs permeate all philosophical theories whether they be aesthetic or epistemological, moral or metaphysical. Yet this fact has often been neglected by those studying the traditions of philosophy. Given the history of canon formation in Western philosophy, the perspective most likely to be privileged is that of upper-class white males. Thus, to be fully aware of the impact of gender biases, it is imperative that we re-read the canon with attention to the ways in which philosophers’ assumptions concerning gender are embedded within their theories.

This series, Re-Reading the Canon, is designed to foster this process of reevaluation. Each volume will offer feminist analyses of the theories of a selected philosopher. Since feminist philosophy is not monolithic in method or content, the essays are also selected to illustrate the variety of perspectives within feminist criticism and highlight some of the controversies within feminist scholarship.

In this series, feminist lenses focus on the canonical texts of Western philosophy, both those authors who have been part of the traditional canon, and those philosophers whose writings have more recently gained attention within the philosophical community. A glance at the list of volumes in the series reveals an immediate gender bias of the canon: Arendt, Aristotle, Beauvoir, Derrida, Descartes, Foucault, Hegel, Hume, Kant, Locke, Marx, Mill, Nietzsche, Plato, Rousseau, Wittgenstein, Wollstonecraft. There are all too few women included, and those few who do appear have been added only recently. In creating this series, it is not my intention to rectify the current canon of philosophical thought. What is and is not included within the canon during a particular historical period is a result of many factors. Although no canonization of texts will include all philosophers, no canonization of texts that excludes all but a few women can offer an accurate representation of the history of the discipline, as women have been philosophers since the ancient period.

I share with many feminist philosophers and other philosophers writing from the margins of philosophy the concern that the current canonization of philosophy be transformed. Although I do not accept the position that the current canon has been formed exclusively by power relations, I do believe that this canon represents only a selective history of the tradition. I share the view of Michael Bérubé that “canons are at once the location, the index, and the record of the struggle for cultural representation; like any other hegemonic formation, they must be continually reproduced anew and are continually contested.”

The process of canon transformation will require the recovery of “lost” texts and a careful examination of the reasons such voices have been silenced. Along with the process of uncovering women’s philosophical history, we must also begin to analyze the impact of gender ideologies upon the process of canonization. This process of recovery and examination must occur in conjunction with careful attention to the concept of a canon of authorized texts. Are we to dispense with the notion of a tradition of excellence embodied in a canon of authorized texts? Or, rather than abandon the whole idea of a canon, do we instead encourage a reconstruction of a canon of those texts that inform a common culture?

This series is designed to contribute to this process of canon transformation by offering a re-reading of the current philosophical canon. Such a re-reading shifts our attention to the ways in which woman and the role of the feminine are constructed within the texts of philosophy. A question we must keep in front of us during this process of re-reading is whether a philosopher’s socially inherited prejudices concerning woman’s nature and role are independent of her or his larger philosophical framework. In asking this question attention must be paid to the ways in which the definitions of central philosophical concepts implicitly include or exclude gendered traits.

This type of reading strategy is not limited to the canon, but can be applied to all texts. It is my desire that this series reveal the importance of this type of critical reading. Paying attention to the workings of gender within the texts of philosophy will make visible the complexities of the inscription of gender ideologies.

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