Gut Feminism

Gut Feminism

Next Wave: New Directions in Women's Studies

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Book Pages: 240 Illustrations: Published: September 2015

Cultural Studies, Science and Technology Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Feminist Theory

In Gut Feminism Elizabeth A. Wilson urges feminists to rethink their resistance to biological and pharmaceutical data. Turning her attention to the gut and depression, she asks what conceptual and methodological innovations become possible when feminist theory isn’t so instinctively antibiological. She examines research on anti-depressants, placebos, transference, phantasy, eating disorders and suicidality with two goals in mind: to show how pharmaceutical data can be useful for feminist theory, and to address the necessary role of aggression in feminist politics. Gut Feminism’s provocative challenge to feminist theory is that it would be more powerful if it could attend to biological data and tolerate its own capacity for harm.


"From organ speech to enteric moods, the gut is minded and the mind gutted by this book. It promises and delivers readings of biochemistry, pharmacology, anatomy, and psychoanalysis as strange matters that are unsettling to biology and feminism alike. Provocative in its diagnosis of the rejection of biology in feminist theory, I expect many readers will both devour this book, and throw it around the room a little." — Hannah Landecker author of Culturing Life: How Cells Became Technologies

"Wilson has written an interesting, yet rather difficult and thought demanding book, drawing from feminist theory and asking for a conceptual expansion of thoughts and ideas related to depression and the gut. The book is suited for those interested in feminist theory and the intersection of biology. . . . At the same time, the book is an interesting contribution in the classroom in such disciplines. . . ." — Hennie Weiss, Metapsychology Online Reviews

"Liz Wilson rarely disappoints, and her latest offering, Gut Feminism, takes up her long standing project to bring feminism into irreducible and unruly alliance with biology several provocative steps further.... I can only commend Wilson for both the provocation and intellectual rigor of her daring." — Margrit Shildrick, Contemporary Women's Writing

"Gut Feminism is a valuable read for everyone interested in finding links between biology and socio-constructionist approaches within feminist theory.... Overall, Gut Feminism constitutes a relevant contribution to current feminist theory, not only in deconstructing scientific knowledge, but also in proposing innovative and exciting understandings of the human body and its performative relation to the world." — Melissa Chacón, Women's Studies International Forum

"[T]imely, persuasive, and engaging.... Gut Feminism makes a valuable contribution to current feminist theory, queer theory, science studies, and neuroscientific humanities literature and will be of interest to scholars of all levels." — Carolyn Laubender, Journal of International Women's Studies

"[A] captivating study that crosses numerous disciplines in order to press the boundaries of both feminist theory and biology. . . . Gut Feminism is a timely and inventive project that extends the traditional scope and methods of feminist theorizing. . . . Wilson's project is fast-paced and far-reaching, engaging with an impressive breadth of data, theory, and argumentation, not, as Wilson identifies, as an attempt to bring consilience to the issues she touches on, but as a way to trace entanglements and ruptures within neuroscience and critical inquiry."

  — Suze G. Berkhout and Ada Jaarsma, Hypatia

"Gut Feminism exemplifies what rigorous work in this field can bring to key debates not just within feminist theory, but within contemporary critical theory as a whole, and does so with intellectual boldness and precision." — Elizabeth Stephens, Australian Humanities Review

"Elizabeth A. Wilson's recently published monograph . . . is as timely as it is persuasive." — Katie Givens Kime, Neuroethics Blog

"Gut Feminism is less a book about politics than one that makes politics happen. It shocks its readers into taking a stance—like a punch in the gut." — Jean-Thomas Tremblay, Make

"The work is groundbreaking and bordering on dangerous, as she disputes the antibiological position most prominent in feminist theorising thus far, and instead forges new lines of flight.... Gut Feminism is a powerhouse of a book. Gripping as only this calibre of feminist theory can be." — Adele Pavlidis, Australian Feminist Studies

"Elizabeth A. Wilson offers in Gut Feminism a refreshingly new approach to the feminist debate on antidepressants, and a response to feminist tendencies of antibiologism.... I would not only recommend this book to feminist scholars working on depression or on the body, for whom Wilson’s framework for reading biological data can offer new perspectives, and to scholars in medical humanities and science and technology studies, but also for all feminist scholars who are interested in alternative ways of approaching feminist politics." — Els Woudstra, International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics

"One of the most provocative and talked-about new books in feminist theory, Gut Feminism is as imaginative as it is polemical. Wilson nuances her intervention here in productive ways. She positions herself at the outset as critic of both 'anti-biologism' in feminism and of the enthusiasm that characterizes much of what constitutes the 'turn to neuroscience' in the humanities and social sciences." — Angela Willey, GLQ

“I have nothing less banal to say than that I loved this book. To use the unavoidable euphemism: I swallowed it whole.... Gut Feminism [is an] engrossing, intensely energising work.” — Des Fitzgerald, Somatosphere

"In beautiful historical detail Wilson succeeds in drawing critical attention away from the centre (brain) and bending it towards the periphery (gut). This book is in itself a ‘fantastic voyage’ of pharmaceuticals as they travel and dissolve in and around many different agencies in the alimentary tract, metabolic pathways and organs of the body (and not just in the brain)." — Megan Warin, Somatosphere

“Elizabeth Wilson's Gut Feminism hovers on the challenge to 'cultivate capacities to harm.' In this intricate book, Wilson explores what might happen if feminist theory consumed biology differently.” — Harris Solomon, Somatosphere

"[Gut Feminism] is … an incitement to do better with the data of other disciplines, data that has a transformative potential for feminist thinking." — Amber Berenza, Somatosphere

"Gut Feminism makes a rich contribution to feminist theory focused on engagement with biological/scientific data, and is an indispensable work for anyone interested in the biomedicine of depression." — Sonja Erikainen, Feminist Theory

"Gut Feminism arrests, transforms, and taxes some of feminist theory’s most entrenched presuppositions. . . . [It] constitutes nothing less than a gut check for feminist theory, one that is likely to jostle and reanimate the field for years to come." — David A. Rubin, Journal of Lesbian Studies

"Gut Feminism changes how we need to think about embodiment; it changes what we need to know about depression. In this, its value extends far beyond the realm of feminist theory." — Astrida Neimanis, philoSOPHIA

"Gut Feminism is a beautifully written, complex book that brilliantly articulates the most recent developments of Wilson’s long-running project addressing the possible role of neurological 'data' . . . in feminist theory." — Celia Roberts, New Genetics and Society

“Theoretically rigorous, critically astute, and absolutely engaging, Gut Feminism is a well-crafted, exquisitely written, and lively intervention into key debates in feminist theory. A major and important book." — Robyn Wiegman, author of Object Lessons

"'There is still something about biology that remains troublesome for feminist theory,' writes Elizabeth Wilson, in Gut Feminism. This vigorous, rigorous, and riveting book not only asks what biology might do for feminist understandings of affect, illness, mood, and agency; it makes a searingly powerful case for an unashamed embrace of feminist aggression. A wonderful pedagogical experience." — Lauren Berlant, author of Cruel Optimism


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Elizabeth A. Wilson is Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Emory University and the author of Psychosomatic: Feminism and the Neurological Body, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  vii

Introduction: Depression, Biology, Aggression  1

Part I. Feminist Theory

1. Underbelly  21

2. The Biolocial Unconscious  45

3. Bitter Melancholy  68

Part II. Antidepressants

4. Chemical Transference  97

5. The Bastard Placebo  121

6. The Pharmakology of Depression  141

Conclusion  169

Notes  181

References  201

Index  225
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5970-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5951-7
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