About this topic

Continental feminist philosophy refers to feminist thought emerging from various continental philosophical and intellectual traditions. In France in particular, movements such as existentialism, psychoanalysis, phenomenology, and deconstruction have been taken up by feminist thinkers, making central questions of gender, sexual difference, women’s sexuality, women’s language, and the presence, or more accurately the absence, of women in the dominant Western philosophical tradition. In the Anglophone context, new areas of continental feminism have emerged including gender theory, feminist race theory, feminist phenomenology, post/de-colonial feminist theory, and queer theory.  Continental feminism includes all these, plus continentally informed critical-feminist approaches to knowledge and science, economic and political structures, cultural practices (arts, popular culture, practices of everyday life), and approaches to and engagements with contemporary and historical figures in the continental philosophical tradition.

Key works Simone de Beauvoir’s insight that “one is not born, but becomes a woman” in De Beauvoir 1952 arguably marks the inception of contemporary continental feminism. Other foundational texts for French feminist philosophy include Cixous 1976Irigaray 1985, and Kristeva 1984. Other key figures are Michèle Le Doeuff, Sarah Kofman, and Monique Wittig. For a key text in Italian feminist philosophy, see Cavarero 2002. In the Anglophone context, Butler 1990 has been vastly influential. Butler synthesizes insights from thinkers as diverse as Michel Foucault, Friedrich Nietzsche, J.L. Austin, de Beauvoir, and Wittig among others; this text more or less gave birth to the fields of gender theory and queer theory. Spivak 1981 provides a postcolonial and deconstructive context for French feminism. Cornell 1991 melds deconstruction and Lacanian psychoanalysis into a feminist critique of law. Grosz 1994, takes up the thought of Irigaray and Deleuze along with phenomenology to forge work on the body that became foundational to the confluence of feminism and “new materialisms,” while Young 2005 stands as a key example of feminist phenomenology in the lineage of Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

Cahill & Hansen 2003: A fine introductory reader in continental feminism. Davidson et al 2010: Excellent introduction to black feminist continental philosophy. Irigaray 1985: Irigaray's foundational collection of essays and interviews explains her philosophical methodology and early positions on a variety of issues. Olkowski 2000: Offers a slew of recent feminist engagements with French philosophy. Le Dœuff 1991: Essays on being a woman in philosophy in France, rereading the history of Western philosophy as a feminist.

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  1. “The Lick of the Mother Tongue: Derrida, Augustine and Marx on the Touch of Language.”.Rachel Aumiller - 2019 - In Mirt Komel (ed.), The Language of Touch: Philosophical Examinations in Linguistics and Haptic Studies. New York, NY, USA: pp. 107-120.
    From Augustine’s (death) drive towards an imaginary time before speech to Marx’s drive toward an imaginary time after speech as we know it, we learn that we are always already within the bonds of the mother tongue. In the late twentieth-century, Derrida turns to both Augustine and Marx to repeat the fantasy of escaping the mother (tongue). Derrida responds to Marx’s analysis of our repeated failure to forget the mother tongue by turning to Augustine’s analysis of the mother’s touch: we (...)
  2. Bataille and the Birth of the Subject: Out of the Laughter of the Socius.Nidesh Lawtoo - 2011 - Angelaki 16 (2):73-88.
    This article examines how Georges Bataille, one of the celebrated precursors of the postmodern death of a linguistic subject, is also a Nietzschean, pre-Freudian thinker who offers us an account of the birth of an affective subject. If critics still tend to recuperate Bataille within a “metaphysics of the subject,” the present article shows that the central concept of his thought needs to be reconsidered in the light of his debt to Pierre Janet’s “psychology of the socius,” an interpersonal psychology (...)
  3. Gender-Specific Values.Charlene Haddock Seigfried - 1984 - Philosophical Forum 15 (4):425.
  4. Who’s Afraid of Gay Parents?Sylvie Duverger - 2007 - Radical Philosophy 146.
  5. Becoming Woman--Becoming Self--Becoming Other.Lena Sofia Louisa Kall - 2004 - Dissertation, Clark University
    Through the phenomenological writings on lived embodiment and intersubjectivity by Edmund Husserl and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, this dissertation aims at reaching an understanding of the meaning of the notion of 'woman' on the level of selfhood. More specifically, it explores the meaning of the notion of 'woman' from the two separate but interrelated perspectives of sexual difference and lived embodiment. In the first section on sexual difference, I join the feminist discussion, which shows dissatisfaction with understanding sexual difference in terms of (...)
  6. “Inmortalidad” En El Simposio De Platón: Acabamiento.Miguel Lizano - 2005 - Hypnos. Revista Do Centro de Estudos da Antiguidade 14:71-82.
    Si nos tomamos el trabajo de buscar para las palabras un sentido que convierta las aparentes falacias en razonamientos válidos, y somos sensibles a rupturas de coherencia al nivel de lo no “doctrinal” ,la doctrina consabida se nos resuelve en pura descripción fenomenológica: las afirmaciones de Diotima sobre la inmortalidad describen el modo paradójico en que a los mortales nos es accesible la felicidad.If we look for a meaning to give to Diotima's words that will convert seeming fallacies into valid (...)
  7. The Ethics of Postmodernity: Current Trends in Continental Thought.Gary B. Madison & Marty Fairbarn (eds.) - 1997 - Northwestern University Press.
    This collection is a powerful statement about the many directions a post-metaphysical ethics might take.
  8. Grenzgänge An den Rändern der Frauenforschung Ein Gespräch MIT Friederike Hassauer.Friederike Hassauer & Ursula Konnertz - 1990 - Die Philosophin 1 (2):58-76.
  9. Ein Gespräch MIT Cornelia Klinger.Cornelia Klinger & Ursula Konnertz - 1992 - Die Philosophin 3 (5):68-77.
  10. Gesa Lindemann: Die Grenzen des Sozialen. Zur Sozio-Technischen Konstruktion von Leben Und Tod in der Intensivmedizin.Ulle Jäger - 2005 - Die Philosophin 16 (31):84-88.
  11. Linda Hentschel: Pornotopische Techniken des Betrachtens. Raumwahrnehmung Und Geschlechterordnung in Visuellen Apparaten der Moderne.Svenja Flaßpöhler - 2003 - Die Philosophin 14 (27):115-118.
  12. Workshop Zur Situation der Wissenschaftlerinnen Und der Frauenforschung in der Ehemaligen DDR 10.11.1990 Dortmund.Sigrid Metz-Göckel & Anne Schlüter - 1991 - Die Philosophin 2 (3):147-149.
  13. Schreiben Ohne Macht Ein Gespräch MIT Sarah Kofman.Sarah Kofman, Ursula Beitz & Ursula Konnertz - 1991 - Die Philosophin 2 (3):103-109.
  14. Philosophy and Feminism in Latin-America, Perspectives on Gender Identity and Culture.Ofelia Schutte - 1988 - Philosophical Forum 20 (1-2):62-84.
  15. Frank B. Farrell. Subjectivity, Realism and Postmodernism.N. Everitt - 1995 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 12:209-209.
  16. Racist Exclusions.David Theo Goldberg - 1994 - Philosophical Forum 26 (1):1-32.
  17. Mandarins and Iconoclasts.Peter Green - forthcoming - Arion 6 (3).
  18. Resentment and the "Feminine" in Nietzsche's Politico-Aesthetics.Caroline Joan S. Picart - 1999 - Pennsylvania State University Press.
    Nietzsche's remarks about women and femininity have generated a great deal of debate among philosophers, some seeing them as ineradicably misogynist, others interpreting them more favorably as ironic and potentially useful for modern feminism. In this study, Kay Picart uses a genealogical approach to track the way Nietzsche's initial use of "feminine" mythological figures as symbols for modernity's regenerative powers gradually gives way to an increasingly misogynistic politics, resulting in the silencing and emasculation of his earlier configurations of the "feminine." (...)
  19. From Girlhood to Womanhood.G. M. Chambers - 1914 - The Eugenics Review 6 (2):171.
  20. Musing: Spectral Phenomenologies: Dwelling Poetically in Professional Philosophy.Elena Flores Ruíz - 2014 - Hypatia 29 (1):196-204.
  21. Fouilles de Mantinée. II. Tête de Femme.Gustave Fougères - 1890 - Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 14 (1):601.
  22. Inventaire de la Marine Athénienne.Paul-François Foucart - 1883 - Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 7 (1):148-152.
  23. “Nicholson's Journal”.S. Lilley - 1948 - Annals of Science 6 (1):78-101.
  24. Feminism and the Internationals.J. Landes - 1981 - Télos 1981 (49):117-126.
  25. Personal Politics: The Roots of Women's Liberation in the Civil Rights Movement and the New Left.E. Manion - 1981 - Télos 1981 (48):205-212.
  26. New French Feminisms: An Anthology.E. Manion - 1980 - Télos 1980 (45):211-215.
  27. Narcissism After the Fall: What's on the Bottom of the Pool?P. Piccone - 1980 - Télos 1980 (44):112-121.
  28. The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender.E. Long - 1980 - Télos 1980 (43):208-215.
  29. On Female Identity and Writing by Women.Judith Kegan Gardiner - 1981 - Critical Inquiry 8 (2):347-361.
    During the past few years, feminist critics have approached writing by women with an "abiding commitment to discover what, if anything, makes women's writing different from men's" and a tendency to feel that some significant differences do exist.4 The most common answer is that women's experiences differ from men's in profound and regular ways. Critics using this approach find recurrent imagery and distinctive content in writing by women, for example, imagery of confinement and unsentimental descriptions of child care. The other (...)
  30. Turning the Lens on "The Panther Captivity": A Feminist Exercise in Practical Criticism.Annette Kolodny - 1981 - Critical Inquiry 8 (2):329-345.
    My purpose here, then, is to reexamine a form which has already attracted considerable attention and, more particularly, by utilizing precisely that same mythopoetic analytic grid established by Fielder and Slotkin to reread on of its most popular incarnations, only adding to it a feminist perspective. My reading will thus avoid the unacknowledged and unexamined assumption which marks their work: the assumption of gender. Nonfeminist critics, after all, tend to ignore the fact of women as readers as much as they (...)
  31. Travesties of Gender and Genre in Aristophanes' "Thesmophoriazousae".Froma I. Zeitlin - 1981 - Critical Inquiry 8 (2):301-327.
    Three of Aristophanes' eleven extant comedies use the typical comic device of role reversal to imagine worlds in which women are "on top." Freed from the social constraints which keep them enclosed within the house and silent in the public realms of discourse and action, women are given a field and context on the comic stage. They issue forth to lay their plans, concoct their plots, and exercise their power over men.The Lysistrate and the Ecclesiazousae stage of the intrusion of (...)
  32. "The Blank Page" and the Issues of Female Creativity.Susan Gubar - 1981 - Critical Inquiry 8 (2):243-263.
    Woman is not simply an object, however. If we think in terms of the production of culture, she is an art object: she is the ivory carving or mud replica, an icon or doll, but she is not the sculptor. Lest this seem fanciful, we should remember that until very recently women have been barred from art schools as students yet have always been acceptable as models. Both Laura and Beatrice were turned into characters by the poems they inspired. A (...)
  33. Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness.Elaine Showalter - 1981 - Critical Inquiry 8 (2):179-205.
    Until very recently, feminist criticism has not had a theoretical basis; it has been an empirical orphan in the theoretical storm. In 1975, I was persuaded that no theoretical manifesto could adequately account for the varied methodologies and ideologies which called themselves feminist reading or writing.1 By the next year, Annette Kolodny had added her observation that feminist literary criticism appeared "more like a set of interchangeable strategies than any coherent school or shared goal orientation."2 Since then, the expressed goals (...)
  34. George Bernard Shaw: Women and the Body Politic.Michael Holroyd - 1979 - Critical Inquiry 6 (1):17-32.
    It was difficult to avoid the amiability of [Shaw's] impersonal embrace. Everything he seemed to say was what it was—and another thing. Women were the same as men: but different. But of the two, he calculated, women were fractionally less idiotic than men. "The only decent government is government by a body of men and women," he said in 1906; "but if only one sex must govern, then I should say, let it be women—put the men out! Such an enormous (...)
  35. Notes and Exchanges.René Wellek, Wayne Booth, Joseph F. Ryan & Jean H. Hagstrum - 1977 - Critical Inquiry 4 (1):203-212.
  36. Good with Her Hands: Women, Boxing, and Work.Carlo Rotella - 1999 - Critical Inquiry 25 (3):566-598.
  37. What Ails Feminist Criticism? A Second Opinion.Robyn Wiegman - 1999 - Critical Inquiry 25 (2):362-379.
  38. Pelléas and Pénélope.Vladimir Jankélévitch, Arnold I. Davidson & Nancy R. Knezevic - 2000 - Critical Inquiry 26 (3):584-590.
  39. What Ails Feminist Criticism?Susan Gubar - 1998 - Critical Inquiry 24 (4):878-902.
  40. Jane Austen and Edward Said: Gender, Culture, and Imperialism.Susan Fraiman - 1995 - Critical Inquiry 21 (4):805-821.
  41. Re-Placing Race in Psychoanalytic Discourse: Founding Narratives of Feminism.Jean Walton - 1995 - Critical Inquiry 21 (4):775-804.
  42. Feminist Heterosexuality and Its Politically Incorrect Pleasures.Jane Gaines - 1995 - Critical Inquiry 21 (2):382-410.
  43. Some Notes on Defining a "Feminist Literary Criticism".Annette Kolodny - 1975 - Critical Inquiry 2 (1):75-92.
    A good feminist criticism . . . must first acknowledge that men's and women's writing in our culture will inevitably share some common ground. Acknowledging that, the feminist critic may then go on to explore the ways in which this common ground is differently imaged in women's writing and also note the turf which they do not share. And, after appreciating the variety and variance of women's experience—as we have always done with men's—we must then begin exploring and analyzing the (...)
  44. The Feminist as Literary Critic.Annette Kolodny - 1976 - Critical Inquiry 2 (4):821-832.
    Reading Morgan's eloquent explanation of himself as a "feminist," self-taught and now wholly enthused at the prospect of teaching a Women Writers course, one comes away sharing Morgan's concern that he not be left out in the cold. It is, after all, exciting and revitalizing to be part of a "revolution"—especially if, like Morgan, one can so generously and wholeheartedly espouse its goals; and, at the same time, it is surely comforting and ego-affirming to experience oneself as a legitimate son (...)
  45. The Gender and Genre of Reverie.Gérard Genette & Thaïs E. Morgan - 1994 - Critical Inquiry 20 (2):357-370.
  46. Gender Ideology, Gender Change: The Case of Marie Germain.Patricia Parker - 1993 - Critical Inquiry 19 (2):337-364.
  47. The Great Mother Domesticated: Sexual Difference and Sexual Indifference in D. W. Griffith's "Intolerance".Michael Rogin - 1989 - Critical Inquiry 15 (3):510-555.
    A giant statue of the mother goddess, Ishtar, presides over Intolerance , the movie D. W. Griffith made after his triumph with The Birth of a Nation . Ishtar sits above Babylon’s royal, interior court, but the court itself is constructed on so gigantic a scale that is diminishes the size of the goddess. Perhaps to establish Ishtar’s larger-than-life proportions, Griffith posed himself alongside her in a production still from the movie . The director is the same size as the (...)
  48. Patriarchy, Lentricchia, and Male Feminization.Donald E. Pease - 1988 - Critical Inquiry 14 (2):379-385.
    So Lentricchia has fulfilled one of his purposes in this essay. He has subverted the patriarchy from within: that is, he has subverted Bloom’s literary history as well as the essentialist feminism associated with it. But he has not fulfilled his affiliated purpose of establishing a dialogue between feminists and feminized males. The “feminization” of literary studies by patriarchal figures like Bloom does not account for the feminization of Stoddard, Gilder, Van Dyke, Woodberry, or Stedman. Their feminization, like that of (...)
  49. The Damsel, the Knight, and the Victorian Woman Poet.Dorothy Mermin - 1986 - Critical Inquiry 13 (1):64-80.
    The association of poetry and femininity … excluded women poets. For the female figures onto whom the men projected their artistic selves—Tennyson’s Mariana and Lady of Shalott, Browning’s Pippa and Balaustion, Arnold’s Iseult of Brittany—represent an intensification of only a part of the poet, not his full consciousness: a part, furthermore, which is defined as separate from and ignorant of the public world and the great range of human experience in society. Such figures could not write their own poems; the (...)
  50. The Scribbling Women and the Cosmic Success Story.Henry Nash Smith - 1974 - Critical Inquiry 1 (1):47-70.
    This essay deals with American fiction between the early 1850s, when Hawthorne and Melville produced their best work, and the first novels of Howells and James in the early 1870s. The familiar notion that this was the period of transition from pre-Civil War Romanticism to postwar Realism tells us nothing in particular about it. Yet we need some historical frame in which to place both of the later efforts of Hawthorne and Melville and the apprentice work of the next generation (...)
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