Women's studies

"We thought the study of women would be a temporary phase; eventually we would all go back to our disciplines."—Gloria Bowles, From the Afterword

Since the 1970s, Women's Studies has grown from a volunteerist political project to a full-scale academic enterprise. Women's Studies on Its Own assesses the present and future of the field, demonstrating how institutionalization has extended a vital, ongoing intellectual project for a new generation of scholars and students.

Women’s Studies on Its Own considers the history, pedagogy, and curricula of Women’s Studies programs, as well as the field’s relation to the managed university. Both theoretically and institutionally grounded, the essays examine the pedagogical implications of various divisions of knowledge—racial, sexual, disciplinary, geopolitical, and economic. They look at the institutional practices that challenge and enable Women’s Studies—including interdisciplinarity, governance, administration, faculty review, professionalism, corporatism, fiscal autonomy, and fiscal constraint. Whether thinking about issues of academic labor, the impact of postcolonialism on Women’s Studies curricula, or the relation between education and the state, the contributors bring insight and wit to their theoretical deliberations on the shape of a transforming field.

Contributors.
Dale M. Bauer, Kathleen M. Blee, Gloria Bowles, Denise Cuthbert, Maryanne Dever, Anne Donadey, Laura Donaldson, Diane Elam, Susan Stanford Friedman, Judith Kegan Gardiner, Inderpal Grewal, Sneja Gunew, Miranda Joseph, Caren Kaplan, Rachel Lee, Devoney Looser, Jeanette McVicker, Minoo Moallem, Nancy A. Naples, Jane O. Newman, Lindsey Pollak, Jean C. Robinson, Sabina Sawhney, Jael Silliman, Sivagami Subbaraman, Robyn Warhol, Marcia Westkott, Robyn Wiegman, Bonnie Zimmerman

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.

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

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • We all have dreams—things we fantasize about doing and generally never get around to. This is the story of Azar Nafisi’s dream and of the nightmare that made it come true.

For two years before she left Iran in 1997, Nafisi gathered seven young women at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. They were all former students whom she had taught at university. Some came from conservative and religious families, others were progressive and secular; several had spent time in jail. They were shy and uncomfortable at first, unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they began to open up and to speak more freely, not only about the novels they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments. Their stories intertwined with those they were reading—Pride and Prejudice, Washington Square, Daisy Miller and Lolita—their Lolita, as they imagined her in Tehran.

Nafisi’s account flashes back to the early days of the revolution, when she first started teaching at the University of Tehran amid the swirl of protests and demonstrations. In those frenetic days, the students took control of the university, expelled faculty members and purged the curriculum. When a radical Islamist in Nafisi’s class questioned her decision to teach The Great Gatsby, which he saw as an immoral work that preached falsehoods of “the Great Satan,” she decided to let him put Gatsby on trial and stood as the sole witness for the defense.

Azar Nafisi’s luminous tale offers a fascinating portrait of the Iran-Iraq war viewed from Tehran and gives us a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women’s lives in revolutionary Iran. It is a work of great passion and poetic beauty, written with a startlingly original voice.

Praise for Reading Lolita in Tehran

“Anyone who has ever belonged to a book group must read this book. Azar Nafisi takes us into the vivid lives of eight women who must meet in secret to explore the forbidden fiction of the West. It is at once a celebration of the power of the novel and a cry of outrage at the reality in which these women are trapped. The ayatollahs don’ t know it, but Nafisi is one of the heroes of the Islamic Republic.”—Geraldine Brooks, author of Nine Parts of Desire
#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A passionate call to arms against our era’s most pervasive human rights violation—the oppression of women and girls in the developing world. From the bestselling authors of Tightrope, two of our most fiercely moral voices

With Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as our guides, we undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet the extraordinary women struggling there, among them a Cambodian teenager sold into sex slavery and an Ethiopian woman who suffered devastating injuries in childbirth. Drawing on the breadth of their combined reporting experience, Kristof and WuDunn depict our world with anger, sadness, clarity, and, ultimately, hope.

They show how a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad. That Cambodian girl eventually escaped from her brothel and, with assistance from an aid group, built a thriving retail business that supports her family. The Ethiopian woman had her injuries repaired and in time became a surgeon. A Zimbabwean mother of five, counseled to return to school, earned her doctorate and became an expert on AIDS.

Through these stories, Kristof and WuDunn help us see that the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women’s potential. They make clear how so many people have helped to do just that, and how we can each do our part. Throughout much of the world, the greatest unexploited economic resource is the female half of the population. Countries such as China have prospered precisely because they emancipated women and brought them into the formal economy. Unleashing that process globally is not only the right thing to do; it’s also the best strategy for fighting poverty.

Deeply felt, pragmatic, and inspirational, Half the Sky is essential reading for every global citizen.
The National Book Critics Circle Award–winning author delivers a collection of essays that serve as the perfect “antidote to mansplaining” (The Stranger).
 
In her comic, scathing essay “Men Explain Things to Me,” Rebecca Solnit took on what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women. She wrote about men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don’t, about why this arises, and how this aspect of the gender wars works, airing some of her own hilariously awful encounters.
 
She ends on a serious note— because the ultimate problem is the silencing of women who have something to say, including those saying things like, “He’s trying to kill me!”
 
This book features that now-classic essay with six perfect complements, including an examination of the great feminist writer Virginia Woolf’s embrace of mystery, of not knowing, of doubt and ambiguity, a highly original inquiry into marriage equality, and a terrifying survey of the scope of contemporary violence against women.
 
“In this series of personal but unsentimental essays, Solnit gives succinct shorthand to a familiar female experience that before had gone unarticulated, perhaps even unrecognized.” —The New York Times
 
“Essential feminist reading.” —The New Republic
 
“This slim book hums with power and wit.” —Boston Globe
 
“Solnit tackles big themes of gender and power in these accessible essays. Honest and full of wit, this is an integral read that furthers the conversation on feminism and contemporary society.” —San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Essential.” —Marketplace
 
“Feminist, frequently funny, unflinchingly honest and often scathing in its conclusions.” —Salon
A jargon-free, non-technical, and easily accessible introduction to women's studies!All too many students enter academia with the hazy idea that the field of women's studies is restricted to housework, birth control, and Susan B. Anthony. Their first encounter with a women's studies textbook is likely to focus on the history and sociology of women's lives. While these topics are important, the emphasis on them has led to neglect of equally important issues. Transforming the Disciplines: A Women's Studies Primer is one of the first women's studies textbooks to show feminist scholarship as an active force, changing the way we study such diverse fields as architecture, bioethics, history, mathematics, religion, and sports studies.Although this text was designed as an introduction to women's studies, it is also rewarding for upper-level or graduate students who want to understand the pervasive effects of feminist theory. Most chapters provide a bibliography or list of further reading of significant works. Its clear, jargon-free prose makes feminist thought accessible to general readers without sacrificing the revolutionary power of its ideas. In almost thirty essays, covering a broad range of subjects from anthropology to chemistry to rhetoric, Transforming the Disciplines exemplifies the changes achieved by feminist thought. Transforming the Disciplines:
  • combines a high standard of writing and scholarship with personal insight
  • includes both traditional academic arguments and alternative, non-agonistic forms of discussion
  • embraces an international scope
  • challenges traditional assumptions, models, and methodologies
  • offers an inter- and multidisciplinary approach
  • strengthens readers’understanding of the big picture not only for women but for all disempowered groups
  • critiques feminism as well as patriarchal society
Feminist theory is grounded in a questioning of traditional assumptions about what is right, natural, and self-evident, not just about the roles and nature of men and women but about how we think, what we teach, whose experience matters, and what is important. Transforming the Disciplines is the first textbook to show the consequences of those questions -- not the answers themselves, but the consequences of the willingness to ask and the transformations that have occurred when the “right” answers changed.
Researcher, thought leader, and New York Times bestselling author Brené Brown offers a liberating study on the importance of our imperfections—both to our relationships and to our own sense of self

The quest for perfection is exhausting and unrelenting. There is a constant barrage of social expectations that teach us that being imperfect is synonymous with being inadequate. Everywhere we turn, there are messages that tell us who, what and how we’re supposed to be. So, we learn to hide our struggles and protect ourselves from shame, judgment, criticism and blame by seeking safety in pretending and perfection.

Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW, is the leading authority on the power of vulnerability, and has inspired thousands through her top-selling books Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, and The Gifts of Imperfection, her wildly popular TEDx talks, and a PBS special. Based on seven years of her ground-breaking research and hundreds of interviews, I Thought It Was Just Me shines a long-overdue light on an important truth: Our imperfections are what connect us to each other and to our humanity. Our vulnerabilities are not weaknesses; they are powerful reminders to keep our hearts and minds open to the reality that we’re all in this together.

Brown writes, “We need our lives back. It’s time to reclaim the gifts of imperfection—the courage to be real, the compassion we need to love ourselves and others, and the connection that gives true purpose and meaning to life. These are the gifts that bring love, laughter, gratitude, empathy and joy into our lives.”
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