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Thoughts on Aspasia and Diotima

This is a really disorganized response paper I wrote for my favorite class, Gender, Rhetoric, and Literacy: Historical Bedfellows, taught by Lillian Bridwell-Bowles. The readings for yesterday's class were parts of Rhetoric Retold by Cheryl Glenn, the first two essays in Reclaiming Rhetorica, edited by Andrea Lunsford, and the selections on Aspasia and Diotima in Available Means, which is sort of a Rhetorical Tradition, but with only women. The selection for Aspasia was from Plato's Menexenus, and the selection for Diotima was from Plato's Symposium.

My first "problematic" in my WoSt class

Here's my first response paper for my Feminist Theory and Methods class (my professor calls them "problematics."). We were to discuss what's in a name; in other words, is it a problem to continue to call this field "women's studies"? Why not "gender studies," "identitarian studies," "women's and gender studies," "sex and gender studies," etc.? Here are my thoughts:

In the 1970s, when the field of Women's Studies was in its nascent phases, the women's movement had a vital presence in mainstream culture. Academic feminists saw an underrepresentation of women in college curricula in such disciplines as history, literature, psychology, sociology, anthropology, rhetoric, philosophy, and science, and they worked to recover the silenced contributions women made to these disciplines and to implement gender as an analytical category for disciplines that had not previously studied women. Such recovery was, of course, a feminist project, but "Feminist Studies" was not only ideologically charged, but also not indicative of the object of study. Women's Studies became a interdisciplinary field of study in which women were both subjects and objects of research.

Abstract of essay by Robyn Wiegman

One of the things we're doing in my Women's Studies class, in addition to the weekly response papers, is taking turns writing abstracts of one of the readings (total of 3 over the course of the semester). I decided to get one of those out of the way. Here's my first draft:

Abstract of "The Progress of Gender: Whither 'Women'?" by Robyn Wiegman

Wiegman argues against the effectiveness of gender studies as a replacement term for women's studies by pointing out that the search for a coherent referent to the object of study in women's studies is futile because the way knowledge is formed in feminist thought is based on identity, which gender does not escape but only sidesteps.

Response papers are a'comin!

I love my classes this fall. Two of them are what we used to call "readings courses" at the University of Tennessee. In other words, they're meant to be foundation courses, not seminars, which translates to lots of short papers and no long seminar paper! The other is Carol Berkenkotter's Genre Theory course, which will be great too. The first class of my week is Feminist Theories and Methods with Jacquelyn Zita, in which we have a 2-3 page response paper due every week. Then there's Lillian Bridwell-Bowles's Gender, Rhetoric, and Literacy: Historical Bedfellows class, in which we have a one-page response due every week. I thought, why not post those responses here? You can read along with me if you like. Next week's responses will be on the following readings...

For the Feminist Theories and Methods class, which has specified themes for the response papers:

  • Beverly Guy-Sheftall, interview with Evelynn M. Hammonds, "Whither Black Women's Studies"
  • Robyn Wiegman, "The Progress of Gender: Whither 'Women'?"
  • Leora Auslander, "Do Women's + Feminist + Lesbian and Gay + Queer Studies = Gender Studies?"
  • Shirley Yee, "The 'Women' in Women's Studies"

and the theme is "Women's Studies: What's in a name?"

For the Gender, Rhetoric, and Literacy class, the readings are:

  • the first two chapters of Rhetoric Retold by Cheryl Glenn (which is awesome so far!)
  • the first three articles in Reclaiming Rhetorica edited by Andrea Lunsford: "On Reclaiming Rhetorica" by Lunsford, "Aspasia: Rhetoric, Gender, and Colonial Ideology" by Susan Jarratt and Rory Ong, and "A Lover's Discourse: Diotima, Logos, and Desire"
  • and the sections on Aspasia and Diotima from Available Means: An Anthology of Women's Rhetoric(s) edited by Joy Ritchie and Kate Ronald

I figure posting my responses will both beef up the scholarly content of my blog and force me to make the responses better than they'd ordinarily be, as more people will be reading them. Funny what motivates me.

Revolve: sorry, I have to comment.


What we have here is a New Testament in secular packaging, which is fine, right? Well, except for the fact that they've only published a Bible like this for young women, not young men, and young white women at that--the slice of the population that most needs to be controlled and disciplined, they'd have us believe. Anyway. Look what they're doing with what many people, including Christian feminists, insist is egalitarian theology:

Among its declarations: "Revolve girls don't call guys," and "Revolve girls are not argumentative."

One entry in an advice column called Blab says, "God made guys to be the leaders. That means they lead in relationships. They tell you they like you first, not vice versa.

From the faith section of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Emphasis in original.

AKMA, I'm wondering if you've seen this and what you think. My guess is that you'd dismiss this as a fundamentalist interpretation of the New Testament. Am I right? What do postmodernist theologians think of this kind of stuff? (Oh, by the way, nice post.)

Posts that strike me

A couple of things from my blog-reading:

NATIVES GRINDING RICE IN A MORTAR OWNED BY ALL (and more) from This Public Address


Public Diaries from Alex Halavais.

That first one has really stuck with me.

Got a story about independence?

Send it to BUST! Deadline is imminent (September 1), but they only want 2,500 words or fewer.

Declare your independence in BUST's upcoming "Independence" issue !
Friday, August 8, 2003 What does independence mean to you? Is it leaving the nest? Leaving a relationship? Leaving an addiction behind? Is independence overrated? If you

Feminism(s) and Rhetoric(s) presentation

One week from today, I'll be at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. I want to take photographs and notes that will accompany a material rhetorical analysis of the festival that I've done for one of my classes. My professor said that for a more grounded analysis, I will need to attend the festival myself, which I had planned on doing anyway. It will be a much-needed vacation...I'm done with teaching, but I have to turn in grades by Wednesday, and I have lots of other stuff to do between now and the time I leave too. Here's an abstract of the paper:

Since the mid-1970s, women have been gathering every summer for the Michigan Womyn

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