Essentialism matters: silence, fear and the feminist dilemma

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Abigail S. Arnold (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Hephzibah Roskelly

Abstract: The project of my dissertation is to define the problem of "Woman" in this contemporary moment, to examine responses to it from popular culture and academic feminist positions and finally to suggest methods for mediating those responses in order to give academic feminism a voice and language through which it can speak to, and be heard by, contemporary, non-academic women in the United States. The project is designed to argue for ways to mediate among competing and conflicting notions of "womanhood," and, beyond that, to what fuels the contentions behind these notions: the place of feminism in the academy and the American culture at large in this contemporary, post 9/11 moment where feminism is repeatedly hailed as "dead," manly virtues of toughness and determination as ways to fight terrorism are juxtaposed with the language of choice and empowerment to explain women's continued service as eroticized commodity to the culture at large, and academic projects with political goals are vilified. A primary means through which my project will advance will be to return to the theories developed by Second Wave feminists, and re-examine their ideas through the lens created by contemporary feminist critique, in order to see what we can re-learn and assimilate from their work.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
Essentialism, Feminism, Pop culture
Feminist theory
Feminism and mass media
Women’s studies
Second-wave feminism

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