Feeling Women′s Liberation

Feeling Women′s Liberation

Next Wave: New Directions in Women's Studies

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Book Pages: 352 Illustrations: 4 illustrations Published: June 2013

American Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, LGBTQ Studies

The term women's liberation remains charged and divisive decades after it first entered political and cultural discourse around 1970. In Feeling Women's Liberation, Victoria Hesford mines the archive of that highly contested era to reassess how it has been represented and remembered. Hesford refocuses debates about the movement’s history and influence. Rather than interpreting women's liberation in terms of success or failure, she approaches the movement as a range of rhetorical strategies that were used to persuade and enact a new political constituency and, ultimately, to bring a new world into being. Hesford focuses on rhetoric, tracking the production and deployment of particular phrases and figures in both the mainstream press and movement writings, including the work of Kate Millett. She charts the emergence of the feminist-as-lesbian as a persistent "image-memory" of women's liberation, and she demonstrates how the trope has obscured the complexity of the women's movement and its lasting impact on feminism.


“The author shines in her detailed and close readings of the material…. Feeling Women’s Liberation advances understandings of feeling, collective memory, and the persistence of the women’s movement…. Hesford’s intervention answers lingering questions regarding caricatures of feminists past and present.” — Alison Dahl Crossley, Gender & Society

“In Feeling Women’s Liberation Victoria Hesford takes a fresh approach….[The book] is an important and powerful contribution to the history of a complex movement, drawing much needed attention to the way that it was and is a product of feeling as much as of politics and propaganda.” — Bridget Lockyer, Women's History Review

“Hesford’s examinations of the interrelation between the movement’s self-representation and the representation by the mass media are extremely effective and illuminating. ... The attention to affect in Feeling Women’s Liberation ... is highly instructive in demonstrating the ‘interdependence between politics and emotion through the constitutive presence of rhetoric’.” — Victoria Browne, Subjectivity

“Hesford has written a tour de force that should be read by anyone interested in the history of the women's movement, feminist theory, or queer theory…Essential.” — B. A. McGowan, Choice

"Engrossing and elegantly written, Victoria Hesford’s Feeling Women’s Liberation stands as both a significant contribution to the burgeoning body of work on the history of the women’s movement as well as a vibrant example of scholarship that is 'neither just "feminist" nor "queer" but both and more' (250). I strongly encourage a wide and diverse academic audience invested in feminist or queer theory to heed Victoria Hesford’s invitation to begin to feel women’s liberation differently." — Rachel F. Corbman, QED

"Feeling Women’s Liberation makes a significant contribution to women’s, gender, and sexuality studies collections. The book is suitable for knowledgeable researchers as well as undergraduate students." — Shana Higgins, Feminist Collections

"Feeling Women's Liberation is a major contribution to understanding second-wave feminism as both a historical event and an ongoing political project. With this engaging and necessary book, Victoria Hesford is working at the forefront of the critical reassessment of the history of the women's movement of the 1970s." — Robyn Wiegman, author of Object Lessons

"Feeling Women's Liberation is a model of cultural studies: self-reflexive about its archive, theoretically sophisticated, and possessed of a compelling central case study, Kate Millett. Recovering forgotten—or, rather, repressed—archival materials, Victoria Hesford offers a brilliantly written genealogy of the politically charged figure of the lesbian feminist in popular and academic discourse from 1970 to the present." — Elizabeth Freeman, author of Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories

"In this book, Victoria Hesford offers us a history of feminism as a history of feeling. Attending to feminist pasts with an ear that is alive to detail, Hesford explores the surprising entanglements that make up the unfinished lives of feminism. Through readings of memories, films, and media texts, she explores not only how feminism is a movement but also how we are moved by feminism and how even the most anxious of figures—such as the feminist-as-lesbian—are animating sites of potential. This powerful and poetic text demonstrates how we can take better care of feminist memories." — Sara Ahmed, author of On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Everyday Life


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Victoria Hesford is Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies in the Department of Cultural Analysis and Theory at Stony Brook University. She is the coeditor of Feminist Time against Nation Time: Gender, Politics, and the Nation-State in an Age of Permanent War.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction. Around 1970: The Feminist-as-Lesbian and a Movement in the Making 1

1. From Lady Protestors to Urban Guerrillas: Media Representations of the Women's Liberation Movement in 1970 25

2. "Goodbye to All That": Killing Daddy's Girls and the Revolt against Proper Femininity 81

3. Becoming Woman Identified Woman: Sexuality, Family Feelings, and Imagining Women's Liberation 114

4. Fear of Flying: Kate Millett, the Difficulty of the New, and the Unmaking of the Feminist-as-Lesbian 155

5. Looking for Ghosts: Remembering Women's Liberation 206

Epilogue. The Politics of Memory and Feeling Historical 249

Notes 269

Bibliography 317

Index 331
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5390-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5376-8
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