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Generations

Academic Feminists in Dialogue

1997

Devoney Looser and E. Ann Kaplan, editors

Generations

Explores the conflicts and challenges facing older and younger feminist scholars.

Composed of essays from academic women at various professional stages-from established scholars to junior professors to graduate students-this collection illuminates the debates of feminist histories and future legacies, while analyzing the challenges of “passing the torch.”

Contributors: Diane Elam, Elizabeth Francis, Linda Frost, Jane Gallop, Dana Heller, Jane Kalbfleisch, Jeanne Marecek, Nancy K. Miller, Mona Narain, Angela M. S. Nelson, Judith Newton, Rebecca Dakin Quinn, Gita Rajan, Judith Roof, Theresa Ann Sears, Ruthe Thompson, Michele Wallace, Barbara A. White, and Lynda Zwinger.

I and most of the feminist professors I know discuss the tension among the feminist generations constantly. We older ones find the projections of the young onto us as putative mothers painful, and of course, on our good days, we notice that we, too, are often guilty of our own parental projections. This consistently lively, illuminating book addresses this material in many registers. As far as I know, it will be the first full book on this now passionately debated, urgent topic. Everyone will want to read it.

Ann Snitow, New School for Social Research

In universities and colleges across the country, feminists are debating their histories and future legacies, often expressing these controversies in generational terms. Some older, second wave feminists accuse younger ones of being careerist, overly theoretical, insufficiently political, and not grateful enough to previous generations. Some third wave feminists consider their foremothers naive, universalizing, or elitist, resentful of deviations from their established plans and improperly wielding their power. Generations addresses these divisions and impasses through sophisticated analyses of the challenges of “passing the torch.”

Generations
is composed of essays from academic women at various professional stages-from established scholars to junior professors to graduate students. Some are concerned with telling intergenerational feminist histories based on both research and experience. Others describe difficulties faced by feminists of all ages in the academy today. A final cluster considers issues in the highly charged convergence of feminist theory and postmodernism.

The promise of feminisms yet to come can be found in these pages, alongside some of the most resonant and important feminist voices of the last two decades. Generations both complicates and enlivens the transmission and rebirth of feminist knowledges from one generation to another.

Contributors: Diane Elam, U of Wales; Elizabeth Francis, Brown U; Linda Frost, U of Alabama; Jane Gallop, U of Wisconsin; Dana Heller, Old Dominion U; Jane Kalbfleisch; Jeanne Marecek, Swarthmore College; Nancy K. Miller, CUNY; Mona Narain, Otterbein College; Angela M. S. Nelson, Bowling Green State U; Judith Newton, U of California, Davis; Rebecca Dakin Quinn; Gita Rajan, Fairfield U; Judith Roof, Indiana U; Theresa Ann Sears, U of Missouri at St. Louis; Ruthe Thompson; Michele Wallace, CUNY; Barbara A. White, U of New Hampshire; Lynda Zwinger, U of Arizona.

Generations

Devoney Looser is assistant professor of English and acting director of Women's Studies at Indiana State University.

E. Ann Kaplan is professor of English and comparative studies and director of the Humanities Institute at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Generations

Generations offers a constructive antidote to handwringing and fingerpointing: here is a collection that isn’t afraid to confront power and the economics of class privilege that seem to structure academic feminism. Devoney Looser and E. Ann Kaplan give us a vocabulary for articulating our more than generational gaps. Bringing academic feminists across generations together in one volume, they attempt cross-generational dialogue about the anxieties enumerated above.

Women’s Review of Books

I and most of the feminist professors I know discuss the tension among the feminist generations constantly. We older ones find the projections of the young onto us as putative mothers painful, and of course, on our good days, we notice that we, too, are often guilty of our own parental projections. This consistently lively, illuminating book addresses this material in many registers. As far as I know, it will be the first full book on this now passionately debated, urgent topic. Everyone will want to read it.

Ann Snitow, New School for Social Research

“For its concept of ‘feminist generations,’ and for the productive challenges to that concept; for its disruptive account of the complex relations of gift, guilt, knowledge and power between teacher and student, daughter and mother, the present and the past, this collection of essays will be a valuable resource for the feminist classroom and a feminist’s study.” Susan Squier, Brill Professor of English and Women's Studies, Pennsylvania State University

“Generations challenges ‘older’ and ‘younger’ feminists to dialogue about how the torch gets passed in generational transfers of power. Having transformed knowledge, how is feminism itself being transformed as the Third Wave washes over the Second Wave? Balancing generational voices, this book admirably avoids stereotyped confrontation and airs the theoretical, institutional, and psychological issues that often divide academic feminists of different ages.” Susan Stanford Friedman, University of

“This volume brings feminists of all ages into dialogue by usefully dislodging the very notion of ‘generation’ from its unitary foundations. Moving beyond simple familial and evolutionary models, Generations offers academic feminists new ways to negotiate the familiar pressures of institutional life: hierarchy, competition, and distrust on the one hand, coalition, mentorship, and respect on the other.” Diana Fuss, Princeton University