NLH: Feminist Investigations and Other Essays

The eagerly-awaited “Feminist Investigations and Other Essays” issue of New Literary History is available at last. See below for a table of contents and the opening paragraphs of the Introduction. Click [here] to access the articles through Project Muse. Happy reading!

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Feminist Investigations and Other Essays [46, 2 (2015)]

  • “Introduction”
  • Toril Moi, “Thinking Through Examples: What Ordinary Language Philosophy Can Do for Feminist Theory”
  • Sandra Laugier, “The Ethics of Care as a Politics of the Ordinary”
  • Sarah Beckwith, “Are There any Women in Shakespeare’s Plays? Fiction, Representation, and Reality in Feminist Criticism”
  • Linda M. G. Zerilli, “The Turn to Affect and the Problem of Judgment”
  • Alice Crary, “Feminist Thought and Rational Authority: Getting Things in Perspective”
  • Jonas Grethlein, “Aesthetic Experiences, Ancient and Modern”
  • Robert J. Meyer-Lee, “Toward a Theory and Practice of Literary Valuing”


We have called this cluster of essays “Feminist Investigations,” in reference to Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. 1 The five essays that follow work in the philosophical tradition after Wittgenstein, J. L. Austin, and Stanley Cavell. Although we call this tradition “ordinary language philosophy” (OLP for short), most of us have misgivings about the name. Some of us feel that the term “ordinary language philosophy” may lead to misunderstandings, not least among philosophers, who often take it to mean either a certain Oxford-based, post-war linguistic philosophy centered on Austin, or certain contemporary analytic continuations of that linguistic philosophy.2 Moreover, the term “ordinary language philosophy” doesn’t explicitly include another fundamental source of inspiration for many of us, namely Cora Diamond’s pathbreaking work on Wittgenstein, moral philosophy, and literature. Despite our reservations, we have decided to use the term in this introduction.

Although the members of our group differ on many philosophical issues, we share an experience of profound liberation at the discovery of the power of OLP to revolutionize our most fundamental understanding of language, theory, and philosophy. We believe that OLP helps feminists to understand everyday experience in transformative ways. In their attunement to the ordinary, the philosophers in the OLP tradition offer us a chance to rethink the everyday contexts in which normative relations of gender and sexuality are reproduced.

This leads to a two-pronged project. In our engagement with feminist theory, we must show how to escape theoretical pictures that block our return to our everyday lives. Such a project entails a diagnosis and description of the philosophical pictures that hold us captive (cf. PI § 115), a challenge taken up by most of the essays in this cluster. But we must also show, through analyses of particular cases, what our own engagement with the everyday actually looks like. This leads us to work on everyday experience, on ethics, and on aesthetics. [Click here to read on]

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