Women′s Studies on the Edge

Women′s Studies on the Edge

a differences book

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Book Pages: 240 Illustrations: 1 photograph Published: June 2008

Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies

At many universities, women’s studies programs have achieved department status, establishing tenure-track appointments, graduate programs, and consistent course enrollments. Yet, as Joan Wallach Scott notes in her introduction to this collection, in the wake of its institutional successes, women’s studies has begun to lose its critical purchase. Feminism, the driving political force behind women’s studies, is often regarded as an outmoded political position by many of today’s students, and activism is no longer central to women’s studies programs on many campuses. In Women’s Studies on the Edge, leading feminist scholars tackle the critical, political, and institutional challenges that women’s studies has faced since its widespread integration into university curricula.

The contributors to Women’s Studies on the Edge embrace feminism not as a set of prescriptions but as a critical stance, one that seeks to interrogate and disrupt prevailing systems of gender. Refusing to perpetuate and protect orthodoxies, they ask tough questions about the impact of institutionalization on the once radical field of women’s studies; about the ongoing difficulties of articulating women’s studies with ethnic, queer, and race studies; and about the limits of liberal concepts of emancipation for understanding non-Western women. They also question the viability of continuing to ground women’s studies in identity politics authorized by personal experience. The multiple interpretations in Women’s Studies on the Edge sometimes overlap and sometimes stand in opposition to one another. The result is a collection that embodies the best aspects of critique: the intellectual and political stance that the contributors take to be feminism’s ethos and its aim.

Wendy Brown
Beverly Guy-Sheftall
Evelynn M. Hammonds
Saba Mahmood
Biddy Martin
Afsaneh Najmabadi
Ellen Rooney
Gayle Salamon
Joan Wallach Scott
Robyn Wiegman


Women’s Studies on the Edge . . . opens possibilities for a vibrant, transformed future for women’s studies.” — Barbara Scott Winkler, Feminist Formations

“An important acquisition for institutions that have (or are in the process of setting up) programs in women’s studies, gender studies, or cultural studies. Essential.” — N. B. Rosenthal, Choice

“This collection of eight essays, edited by Joan Wallach Scott, discusses the impact of institutional success on women’s studies programs in the United States. . . . All the essays, each thoughtful in their own right, represent ideas that have unevenly infused academia but that continue to be salient.” — Susie S. Porter, Affilia

“With its combination of landmark and new contributions, Women's Studies on the Edge will be a valuable addition to the library of any feminist scholar.” — Elizabeth Groeneveld, thirdspace

Women’s Studies on Its Own charts the course academic feminism has taken in the thirty years since the founding of the first Women’s Studies program. Even better, it offers a game plan for the next thirty years. It's indispensable.”
— Cathy N. Davidson, coeditor of No More Separate Spheres! A Next Wave American Studies Reader

“As we enter something of a ‘post-identity politics’ era, one in which colleges and universities are increasingly held accountable for the kinds of knowledge they produce (and how and for whom), Women's Studies on Its Own offers both a rationale for and a critical analysis of the state of the field.” — Jill Dolan, author of Geographies of Learning: Theory and Practice, Activism and Performance


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Joan Wallach Scott is the Harold F. Linder Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study. Her many books include The Politics of the Veil, Gender and the Politics of History, and Feminists Theorize the Political (co-edited with Judith Butler).

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction: Feminism's Critical Edge / Joan Wallach Scott 1

I. Over the Edge

The Impossibility of Women's Studies / Wendy Brown 17

Feminism, Institutionalism, and the Idiom of Failure / Robyn Wiegman 39

II. Edged Out

Teaching and Research in Unavailable Intersections / Afsaneh Najmabadi 69

Feminism, Democracy, and Empire: Islam and the War of Terror / Saba Mahmood 81

Transfeminism and the Future of Gender / Gayle Salamon 115

III. Edging In

Discipline and Vanish: Feminism, the Resistance to Theory, and the Politics of Cultural Studies / Ellen Rooney 139

Whither Black Women's Studies: Interview / Beverly Guy-Sheftall with Evelynn M. Hammonds 155

Success and Its Failures / Biddy Martin 169

Works Cited 199

Contributors 211

Index 215
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4274-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4252-6
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