Language and Liberation

Feminism, Philosophy, and Language

Edited by Christina Hendricks & Kelly Oliver

Subjects: Philosophy Of Language
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791440520, 402 pages, April 1999
Hardcover : 9780791440513, 402 pages, April 1999

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Table of contents


Introduction: How to Do (Feminist) Things With Words

Christina Hendricks and Kelly Oliver

Part One: The Power of Words: Changing Meanings, Changing Social Spaces

1. Derogatory Terms: Racism, Sexism, and the Inferential Role Theory of Meaning

Lynne Tirrell

2. Discourse Competence: Or How to Theorize Strong Women Speakers

Sara Mills

3. Surviving to Speak New Language: Mary Daly and Adrienne Rich

Jane Hedley

4. From Revolution to Liberation: Transforming Hysterical Discourse into Analytic Discourse

Georganna Ulary

Part Two: The Power to Speak: Who Is Speaking, from Where?

5. Disarticulated Voices: Feminism and Philomela

Elissa Marder

6. Confessional Feminisms: Rhetorical Dimensions of First-Person Theorizing

Susan David Bernstein

7. The Postcolonial Critic: Shifting Subjects, Changing Paradigms

Sangeeta Ray

Part Three: The Power of Masculinist Metaphors: Words That Keep Women in Place

8. Sublime Impersonation: The Rhetoric of Personificationin Kant

Natalie Alexander

9. Frege's Metaphors

Andrea Nyc

10. Free Gift or Forced Figure? Derrida's Usage of Hymen in "The Double Session"

Roberta Weston

Part Four: The Power of Feminist Metaphors: Words That Open Spaces for Women

11. At the Limits of Discourse: Heterogeneity, Alterity, and the Maternal Body in Kristeva's Thought

Ewa Plonowska Ziarek

12. Writing (into) the Symbolic: The Maternal Metaphor in Hélène Cixous

Lisa Walsh

13. Language and the Space of the Feminine: Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray

Cynthia Baker

About the Contributors


Gathers authors with different backgrounds and methods to advance feminist discussions of the relation between language and women's oppression, suggesting promising new directions for further research.


Presenting new and important scholarship in feminist language theory, this book addresses issues within diverse traditions, bringing together feminist positions, strategies, and styles in an original way. Gathering together authors with different backgrounds and methods, Language and Liberation puts this diverse scholarship into dialogue.

The questions and concerns reflected in these essays are presented within the context of their historical background, provided by the editors' comprehensive Introduction. These questions include: Is there a distinction between "female" and "male" language? What is the relationship of feminine/feminist identity to language? What is the value of metaphor for feminist theory and practice?

At the University of Texas at Austin, Christina Hendricks is a doctoral candidate in Philosophy and Kelly Oliver is Associate Professor in Philosophy. Oliver is the author of Family Values: Subjects Between Nature and Culture; Womanizing Nietzsche: Philosophy's Relation to "the Feminine"; and Reading Kristeva: Unraveling the Double-Bind. She is also the editor of The Portable Kristeva and Ethics, Politics and Difference in the Writing of Julia Kristeva.


"Mary Daly, Adrienne Rich, Cixous, Derrida, Kristeva, Irigaray, Kant, Frege, and Ovid are some of the thinkers discussed, often with good reviews of their work. " — Ethics

"This book not only takes on the questions of the political effectiveness of feminist interventions into the use of language, but also presents an eclectic range of approaches which makes the connections and disconnections among these approaches more apparent. It both sharpens the terms of the debate about how and whether the question of language is relevant to a feminist project, and presents evocative points of convergence and divergence on this issue in present feminist theory. These essays are seasoned responses by feminists who clearly know their material and have given this issue a lot of thought. This energy and commitment comes through in their writing. " — Tamsin Lorraine, Swarthmore College

"As the editors set out in the Introduction, the question of the relationship between language use and women's status is central both to academic feminism and the feminist movement. The issue receives close and continuing attention in several disciplines besides philosophy, including English and foreign languages, linguistics, women's studies, history, sociology, and anthropology. Each of the essays provides insights and makes contributions of intellectual importance. " — Susan C. Jarratt, Miami University