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 1976, Irigaray 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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David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
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