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Title page for ETD etd-06292011-085710

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Tyson, Sarah Katherine
Author's Email Address sarah.tyson@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-06292011-085710
Title Models of Engagement: Luce Irigaray, Genevieve Lloyd, Michèle Le Doeuff and the History of Philosophy
Degree PhD
Department Philosophy
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Kelly Oliver Committee Chair
Gregg Horowitz Committee Member
Lisa Guenther Committee Member
  • The Man of Reason
  • Penelope Deutscher
  • Uchronic Method
  • Sorcerer Love
Date of Defense 2011-06-28
Availability unrestricted

For over thirty years now, reclamations of historical women’s philosophical writing have provided us with more access to the work of women who have largely not been represented in philosophical history. Yet, within the field of reclamation, the mechanisms of women’s exclusion from philosophy have not been sufficiently theorized. Without that theorization, I argue, reclamation risks contributing to the exclusion of women from philosophy. Reclamation must begin its work with the question of exclusion. In this dissertation, I show how that can be done with the work of three thinkers of women’s exclusion, Luce Irigaray, Genevieve Lloyd, and Michèle Le Doeuff. I use their theories to generate models of engaging women’s writing that transform philosophical practice to overcome its constitution through the exclusion of women. Then, I use the perspective gained on exclusion to engage the Seneca Falls Declaration and Sojourner Truth’s speech at the 1851 Ohio Women’s Rights Convention.

For Irigaray, the logic of discourse makes it impossible for feminine subjectivity to speak. Yet, the logic of discourse can be changed, and Irigaray shows how attention to women’s writing can be a crucial strategy for transforming it. With Lloyd’s approach, women’s writing cannot enter philosophical history without significant revision of the concept of reason. Lloyd offers a means of reconceptualizing reason through historical critique. For Le Doeuff, women’s writing did make transformative demands, and offer alternatives in light of them, but we are unlikely to know that history. We must now imagine our way into that lost history, and Le Doeuff offers a means for doing so.

By comparing the advantages, limitations, and potential collaboration of these approaches, both in abstract analysis and through concrete engagement with the Seneca Falls Declaration and Truth’s speech, my intent is not to declare one method the winner, but to help elucidate how the reclamation of women’s writing can proceed. Through this comparative work, however, I also hope to show the stakes of how reclamation is approached. Although I do not aim to provide a single answer, I hope to show the urgency of the question: how should we reclaim women’s writing?

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