In 1994, five years after the publication of the first volume of differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, the editors launched the differences book series to extend the reach of the journal and serve new audiences. The inaugural volume in this series, The Essential Difference, appeared with Indiana University Press. Three years later, Feminism Meets Queer Theory appeared, again with Indiana University Press. More recently, Joan Wallach Scott edited Women's Studies on the Edge, the third differences book, published by Duke University Press in 2008. The editors look forward to expanding the differences book series in the years to come.
At many universities, women’s studies programs have achieved department status, establishing tenure-track appointments, graduate programs, and consistent course enrollments. Yet, as Joan Wallach Scott notes in her introduction to this collection, in the wake of its institutional successes, women’s studies has begun to lose its critical purchase. Feminism, the driving political force behind women’s studies, is often regarded as an outmoded political position by many of today’s students, and activism is no longer central to women’s studies programs on many campuses. In Women’s Studies on the Edge, leading feminist scholars tackle the critical, political, and institutional challenges that women’s studies has faced since its widespread integration into university curricula.
The contributors to Women’s Studies on the Edge embrace feminism not as a set of prescriptions but as a critical stance, one that seeks to interrogate and disrupt prevailing systems of gender. Refusing to perpetuate and protect orthodoxies, they ask tough questions about the impact of institutionalization on the once radical field of women’s studies; about the ongoing difficulties of articulating women’s studies with ethnic, queer, and race studies; and about the limits of liberal concepts of emancipation for understanding non-Western women. They also question the viability of continuing to ground women’s studies in identity politics authorized by personal experience. The multiple interpretations in Women’s Studies on the Edge sometimes overlap and sometimes stand in opposition to one another. The result is a collection that embodies the best aspects of critique: the intellectual and political stance that the contributors take to be feminism’s ethos and its aim.
The contributors are Wendy Brown, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Evelynn M. Hammonds, Saba Mahmood, Biddy Martin, Afsaneh Najmabadi, Ellen Rooney, Gayle Salamon, Joan Wallach Scott, and Robyn Wiegman.
Feminism Meets Queer Theory, Indiana University Press, 1997
Naomi Schor and Elizabeth Weed, editors
When feminism meets queer theory, no introductions seem necessary. The two share common political interests—a concern for women’s and gay and lesbian rights—and many of the same academic and intellectual roots. And yet, they can also seem like strangers, needing mediation, translation, clarification. This volume focuses on the encounters of feminist and queer theories, on the ways in which basic terms such as "male" and "female," "man" and "woman," "black," "white," "sex," "gender," and "sexuality" change meaning as they move from one body of theory to another.
Along with essays by Judith Butler, Evelynn Hammonds, Biddy Martin, Kim Michasiw, Carole-Anne Tyler, and Elizabeth Weed, there are interviews: Judith Butler engages Rosi Braidotti and Gayle Rubin in separate revealing discussions. And there are critical exchanges: Rosi Braidotti and Trevor Hope exchange comments on his reading of her work; and Teresa de Lauretis responds to Elizabeth Grosz’s review of her recent book.
What is essentialism? What is anti-essentialism? The Essential Difference attempts to answer questions at the heart of current feminist theory and cultural study. The book deals with origins and contexts of the debate; relationships between essentialism, anti-essentialism, and the power of language; reasons for the demonization of essentialism within the academy; the relationship between essentialism and Third World studies.
The essays also speculate about whether there can be an anti-essentialist feminism, whether there can in fact be a feminist politics that dispenses with the notion of Woman. This long-awaited volume questions the bases of feminism itself.
The contributors are Teresa de Lauretis, Diana Fuss, Elizabeth Grosz, Luce Irigaray, Leslie Wahl Rabine, Ellen Rooney, Robert Scholes, Naomi Schor, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.