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date: 09 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter analyzes multiple conceptualizations of experience developed within Anglo-American and French feminist theory, and traces their relation to the concepts “woman,” “patriarchy,” and “personal politics.” It explores experience as epistemological ground, as a mechanism of subject formation, as a technique in consciousness raising, and as a methodology. Taking the feminist sexuality debates as a point of departure, the chapter also situates the limitations of feminist notions of experience in relation to queer theory, critical theory, poststructuralism, and the problematics of humanism. Finally, the chapter shows how feminist theoretical uses of the idea of experience parallel explorations and developments of the concept in other non-feminist critical theories. Though it has very often been ignored or considered as something of an anomaly by other critical theorists, the chapter demonstrates that feminist theory is a kind of critical theory and situates it in that broader context.

Keywords: critical theory, experience, epistemology, feminist theory, patriarchy, second wave

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