Doing Feminist Theory: From Modernity to Postmodernity

By Calvert, Beatrice | Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources, Winter 2013 | Go to article overview

Doing Feminist Theory: From Modernity to Postmodernity


Calvert, Beatrice, Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources


Susan Archer Mann, DOING FEMINIST THEORY: FROM MODERNITY TO POSTMODERNITY. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. 496p. bibl.index. pap., $52.95, ISBN 978-0199858101.

"Just as textile workers weave yarn and thread to create fabrics, feminist theorists weave concepts and ideas to better understand the gendered fabric of social life" (p. xvi), writes Susan Archer Mann in the introduction to this textbook. Mann posits that constructing feminist theory is not only a social practice, but also a form of labor and a political means to effect social change for women in a myriad of social locations. Doing Feminist Theory examines the paradigm shifts from modernity to postmodernity and deconstructs these two strains of social thought to illuminate both the conflicts they caused within feminism and the growth they inspired within and between the First and Third Waves of the feminist movement.

The book is organized into three sections to better aid both students and teachers in their study of the shifting paradigms. Section I, "Modern Feminist Thought," is historical, covering feminist thought from the late eighteenth century to the present day. Section II, "Feminist Thought After Taking the Postmodern Turn," highlights the diversity and multiplicity of feminist political perspectives that have characterized U.S. feminist thought. This aspect of Mann's analysis is crucial in that it emphasizes the connection between theory and agency. Section III, "Bridging the Local and the Global: Feminist Discourses on Colonialism, Imperialism, and Globalization," focuses on theory applications--or, to put it another way, on how feminist theories have addressed specific topics over historical time. For example, Mann introduces the political perspective of ecofeminism and shows how the concept began to develop in the nineteenth century within that era's "radical feminism" and was later given its present-day definition by Marxist and anarchist feminists. Despite the division of the text into three sections, concepts and ideas recur and are woven throughout. …

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