The Excentrical Center: From the Feminist Critiques of Modern Political Subject to the Epistemological Privilege of “Woman”
4pm, Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Ahmadieh Family Lecture Hall
C105, Bay 4, Smith Warehouse
The talk proposes an analysis of the vicissitudes and the crisis of the modern political subject from the perspective of women and feminism. It will be articulated in three acts, and each will be introduced by the words of a man. This willingly inappropriate narrative device is intended to expose the act of power that lies behind the very constitution of the modern political subject. In the first act - opened by a reading of Thomas Hobbes's work and developed through an analysis of Margaret Cavendish's and Mary Shelley's fictions - it will be shown that the claim for absoluteness and universality of the modern subject hides the 'original' gesture of subjecting women. In the second act, moving from Jeremy Bentham's conception of marriage as the foundation of civilization, it is suggested that the explicit critique of the subject entitled to rights articulated by Olympe de Gouges, Mary Wollstonecraft and Emma Goldman is a critique of the whole order constituted upon that subject: the order of sovereignty, society and the market. In the last act, the debate around Hegel's Phenomenology - involving Simone de Beauvoir, Judith Butler, Carla Lonzi, Luce Irigaray, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak - is read in order to show that woman, as an «impossible subject», provides an unexpected and privileged critical perspective on contemporary global dynamics of power.