Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

Break-Throughs, Break-Ins and Break-Ups: The Impact of Gender Studies across the Disciplines. (Introduction)

Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

Break-Throughs, Break-Ins and Break-Ups: The Impact of Gender Studies across the Disciplines. (Introduction)

Article excerpt

The articles in this special issue of RFR/DRF recognize the tension between the positive, productive side of erecting borders around feminist scholarship through the development of women's studies and gender studies programs and the goal of integrating feminist scholarship within mainstream curriculum. They also hold out hope that feminist scholarship can move out of a marginal position and resist the containment implied by the separation of disciplines.

Given the extensive attention already devoted to the topic of gender and the academic disciplines, one might ask "why more?" Taking stock of the impact of women's studies/gender studies/feminism on the academic disciplines is one means of writing a history (biography might be a more appropriate term) of feminist contributions to scholarship. Given the ever-changing mappings of disciplinary boundaries, those occupying the borderlands might find such a running account useful in planning future strategy. In addition, reflexive scholarship requires such a "turning-back," and a critical revaluation of directions and goals. Analyses have become more and more complex as feminist scholars have recognized that getting women into the disciplines is not sufficient; to effect change in the traditional disciplines requires additional forces which are contextual.

In September 1996 a group of scholars gathered at the University of Calgary for a conference entitled, "Break-Throughs, Break-Ins and Break-Ups: The Impact of Gender Studies Across the Disciplines." The wide range of disciplines represented (Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology, Philosophy, English, Women's Studies, Medicine, Engineering, Commerce, Art, Law, Criminology and others), along with the diversity of generations (including an emeritus professor, senior scholars holding administrative appointments, untenured professors and graduate students) meant that the conference drew on vastly different experiences within institutions and disciplines. For if it is true that gender has worked its way into the methodologies of a spectrum of disciplines across the university, it is also true that the disciplinary response to gender has been uneven and varied. Even within the Faculties around which contemporary universities structure themselves, significant differences exist: in medicine, for instance, family therapi sts challenged themselves to think through the implications of gender some two decades before their colleagues in other specialties reflected on the previously unquestioned assumption that the male body could be the norm for treatment protocols and medications; in the humanities, scholars in English and modem languages drew on European and Anglo-American theorizing to explore the construction of traditional canons and to retrieve marginalized women's writings, while other humanities disciplines, such as classics, took up issues of gender much more cautiously. The late 1990s seemed a propitious moment to revisit and re-examine the impact of gender studies across the disciplines. In alluding to 'break-throughs, break-ins and break-ups,' the title of the conference signalled both the innovations and the instabilities that scholarship on gender foregrounds within academic communities.

Interest in gender and the academic disciplines has been sustained since Dale Spender's (1981) collection Men's Studies Modified: The Impact of Feminism on the Academic Disciplines appeared two decades ago. With essays covering the broad spectrum of the academy, including humanities (e.g., philosophy), social sciences (e.g., sociology), science (e.g., biology), law, education and medicine, Spender described the purpose of her book in this way:

Although there are numerous bases for the division between those who have power and those who do not, the focus of this book is the division based on gender. Most of the knowledge produced in our society has been produced by men; they have usually generated the explanations and the schemata and have then checked with each other and vouched for the accuracy and adequacy of their view of the world. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.