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Done with that feminist theory paper. I'm glad we've done feminist… - Impressions and Expressions of Ijon
May 30th, 2003
05:01 pm

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Done with that feminist theory paper. I'm glad we've done feminist theory in class -- I wouldn't have approached this material with a ten-foot pole of my own volition, and I now realize it would have been a shame. Some feminist criticism is interesting and sound, and while I doubt I shall pursue it further during my undergraduate studies, I have at least acquired a taste for it, and would know which critics and authors to go to if I ever want more.

Animal Farm version: "Elaine Showalter goooood; Hélène Cixous baaaaad."

Current Mood: relieved
Current Music: Simon and Garfunkel -- Old Friends

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From:ukelele
Date:May 30th, 2003 08:16 am (UTC)
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Oh, feminist theory, there's something with which I have an exciting relationship.

First off, my mom is a Feminist. A marching-in-the-streets, Women's-Studies-Department, doctorate-in-women's-history Feminist. Who gave me my theoretical mind. So this was all second nature and children-learn-from-their parents unquestioned assumption for a long time. And now that I'm in my twenties, I get to question the hell out of it :). I'm probably overcorrecting and will someday not look down on it quite so much as I do.

But that's really just backdrop. The important thing, of course, is Classics.

...where feminists have pretty well reinvented the field and made it worthwhile in a lot of new ways. It took people concerned about women, marginalized groups, social history, new approaches to break us from a military-and-political-history, done-to-death field. They asked an awful lot of fascinating new questions, and I do feel a debt to them for that.

But then, God help us, the way they answered them....

No, you can't read Sallust as Marx or Foucault and call it reality. I'm embarrassed anyone can even call it scholarship -- I'd call it "anachronism" or "parlor game." There's just...there's just such an up-front decision of the conclusions that will be found ("first-century Rome bears out twentieth-century gender/power philosophy!" or whatever), and darned if they don't find it. Evidence? Rigor? What are these of which you speak? I pretty well snapped when I saw one of these feminist scholars try to talk about the demography of slaves by looking at names on tombstones -- making her paper look all Fancy and Rigorous and Intellegent by including Math (tm) -- except that there are, like, three social scientists in the world who know anything about math, and when you are doing statistics ("statistics," really -- what she was doing was arithmetic) and you have a little parenthesis, (N = 7)...

no, that doesn't make you look smart or rigorous, that makes you look like you don't know what a sample set is and you certainly aren't licensed to use it.

So, yes, my "I went to an engineering school" biases are showing through, but I have certain ideas about logic and rigor, and what you can call truth and what you can call probability, and the relative weights of each, and I tend to think that people who intend to fantasize and call it scholarship should be writing fanfic instead. And I think the feminist theorists, alas, are far, far more guilty of this than the more traditional scholars.

I am, should I pursue scholarship, to exist in the intersection: asking the interesting questions, but using methods I can respect myself for. (My lack of confidence that such methods actually exist -- see above about engineering school -- is a leading reason I didn't apply to Ph.D. programs this year.)

But hey. At least "gendered space" has become a running joke in my household.
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From:ravell
Date:May 30th, 2003 08:58 am (UTC)

LOL

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"no, that doesn't make you look smart or rigorous, that makes you look like you don't know what a sample set is and you certainly aren't licensed to use it."

two thumbs up!
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From:ukelele
Date:May 30th, 2003 09:40 am (UTC)

Re: LOL

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I'm glad someone feels my pain :).
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