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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Department of GWSS Colloquim Series "Making a Fuss: A Conversation about Feminists in the Academy"

THE DEPARTMENT OF GWSS is hosting a colloquium series centered around the theme "Making a Fuss: A Conversation about Feminists in the Academy" with Belgian feminist philosophers Isabelle Stengers and Vinciane Despret on Thursday, April 9th, 2015 from 12-1:00 pm in the Weisman Museum.

Winton Scholars Event and GWSS colloquium series
Making a Fuss: A Conversation about Feminists in the Academy
with Isabelle Stengers, Vinciane Despret, April Knutson, & Amy Kaminsky
Thursday, April 9th, 2015 from 12-1:00 pm in the Weisman Museum
Isabelle Stengers and Vinciane Despret, Belgian feminist philosphers, will be visiting Winton scholars at the University of Minnesota the week of April 6th. On Thursday, April 9, GWSS will be hosting a lunch discussion with them at the Weisman Museum.
In preparation for this discussion, April Knutson, a former lecturer in the department, would like to facilitate a reading group that would meet once or twice to discuss the book, which examines the role of women in academia prior to the luncheon.
Professors Stengers and Despret are not interested in lecturing to students during their visit. They want to have dialogue/discussion with students. So it would be great if we could be prepared to fully participate in a discussion with these visiting feminist scholars.
If are a graduate student and would be interested in joining a reading group, please contact April Knutson at knuts001@umn.edu
Book: Stengers, Isabelle and Vinciane Despret and collective, Women Who Make a Fuss: The Unfaithful Daughters of Virginia Woolf, translated by April Knutson, Minneapolis: Univocal, 2014. (The book is published locally by Univocal, a small press dedicated to translating French philosophical works. Univocal has one chapter of the book online, http://www.univocalpublishing.com/blog/not-in-our-name, and they are offering a 40% discount on the book until Stengers and Despret arrive on campus--http://www.univocalpublishing.com/univocal-publishing/spring-2014/women-who-make-a-fuss)
Summary: Isabelle Stengers and Vinciane Despret, Belgian feminist philosophers, read Virginia Woolf's Three Guineas and take seriously her exhortation to women to think carefully before joining the academic procession of educated men who had for so long banned women from university careers. Woolf also warned women about being co-opted into protecting and promoting a "civilization" with values alien to their lives and dreams. Stengers and Despret's book starts with a summary of Woolf's arguments, then examines the current situation on campuses with regard to the status of women and immigrant students.
Stengers and Despret review the abusive treatment of women scholars by academia, particularly by scientists. They recount the dismissal of the important research conducted by Barbara McClintock and Shirley Strum. Adrienne Zihlman's ground-breaking research, putting the woman-gatherer on center stage in the development of human society, was reviled as a "pollution of science." As philosophers, Stengers and Despret have had to contend with misogynist readings of Leibnitz and to defend their research topics from the charge that they are not "philosophy."
In Part Two of this book, Stengers and Despret reproduce a letter, which they sent to women academics in Belgium and France, asking them to ponder Woolf's warning to women and consider "what we have learned, we who have in fact joined the ranks of 'educated men'." Many women responded and then met in Paris to further discuss their experiences in academia. The stories of a number of these women are recounted, including Françoise Sironi, psychologist; Marcelle Stroobants, sociologist; Laurence Bouquiaux, mathematician and philosopher; Françoise Balibar, physicist and historian of science; Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent, historian of science and technology; Barbara Cassin, philosopher and philologist; Benedikte Zitouni, urban sociologist; and Émilie Hache, philosopher. This collective of women in academia continue to fight for full acceptance of their work and their presence in universities. They join Stengers and Despret in urging women to heed Woolf's cry--Think We Must--and to continue to make a fuss when faced with injustice, cruelty, and arrogance.