Rousseau in Drag: Deconstructing Gender
Rosanne Terese Kennedy
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Rosanne Terese Kennedy Rousseau in Drag: Deconstructing Gender. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. 200 Pages (Breaking Feminist Waves)
Release date: January 3, 2012 | ISBN-10: 0230340083 | ISBN-13: 978-0230340084
Rousseau in Drag is a provocative new interpretation of Rousseau's gender politics. Rosanne Terese Kennedy reads Rousseau's well-known but brief flirtation with cross-dressing as a starting point to dramatically reconsider the standard reading of Rousseau as a misogynist. This study argues that rather than a figure of misogyny, Rousseau challenges normative gender identites, the couple, and traditional kinship relations. Reading Rousseau's classical political and philosophical works alongside his literary texts, Kennedy offers us an alternative vision of both Rousseau's sexual politics and his politics in general.
"Uncovering sides of Rousseau previously hidden in plain sight, Kennedy's Rousseau in Drag is one of the most exciting books I have read in a very long time. It explodes reigning conceptions of Rousseau's views on women and gender and will generate healthy debate for years to come." - Helena Rosenblatt, professor of History, The Graduate Center, CUNY
"A bravura close-reading. In place of the blinkered proponent of patriarchy depicted in most of the literature on Rousseau, Kennedy brings to life a paragon of perverse desire—a paradoxical and self-contradicting author whose texts belie a deep sexual ambivalence, in passages that are sometime wildly evocative of fluid identities and intimate relations outside of the traditional nuclear family." - James Miller, professor of Political Science and Liberal Studies, New School for Social Research
"Rousseau in Drag delivers an exciting new perspective on the gender dynamics across Rousseau's oeuvre. Probing the Confessions, Julie, Émile, and shorter essays, Kennedy's reading both complements and disrupts earlier feminist work on Rousseau by taking seriously his 'perverse' desires. Without reducing Rousseau's writings to his biography or psycho-biography, Kennedy interprets Rousseau's own sexual and performative proclivities as constituting a move beyond the gender binaries that he otherwise seems to reproduce at various points within his texts." - Lori Marso, author of (Un)Manly Citizens and Feminist Thinkers and the Demands of Femininity
About the Author
Rosanne Kennedy teaches Political Theory and Feminist Theory at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University.
Hardcover: 200 pages
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (January 3, 2012)
Printed book Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.8 inches
On this file: a bookmarked vector pdf; cover included.
other countries, whence instead of the many useful things from which they could profit, they bring back, with a childish tone and ridiculous airs adopted among debauched women, only admiration for I know not what pretended grandeurs, frivolous compensations for servitude, which will never be worth as much as august freedom.80 Rousseau’s praise of Genevan women has not been well received by feminist readers. Such “praise” has been interpreted as Rousseau’s attempt to sequester women in the
presents beings so enormous, so bloated, so chimerical, that the example of the vices is hardly more contagious that that of their virtues is useful; and, the extent it wants to instruct us less, it does us also less harm.”30 The scenes of tragedy have become too far removed from the modern era to have any great effect, either good or bad. The same cannot be said of comedy. Comedy, according to Rousseau, is much more dangerous. The ostensible function of comedy is self-critique, to point out the
Valaisans.”31 That St. Preux can indulge and has an equal appetite for both dairy and wine signifies his ambiguous gender identity or the ability to traverse normative boundaries. 10.1057/9781137010629 - Rousseau in Drag, Rosanne Terese Kennedy POSTOEDIPAL DESIRE 99 This is also clear in St. Preux’s ability (in contrast to Wolmar) to fully participate and share the rapturous joy of Julie and Claire when the latter finally moves in to Clarens. St. Preux describes the ecstatic scene: “Claire
distinct idea of the union of the sexes before my adolescence; but also that idea never offered itself to me except in an odious and disgusting image. I had a horror of street walkers that has never worn off; I could not see a debauched person without disdain, even without fright: for my aversion to debauchery went that far, ever since the day, while going to Little Sacconex by a sunken road on both sides I saw the holes in the ground where I was told that people copulate. Also what I had seen of
both narratives as explicitly critical (rather than implicitly) and as a continuation of Rousseau’s thought rather than a last-minute hesitation in which the “trust in his own solution begins to quake.” I contend that in both stories, Rousseau can be seen as putting forth a very explicit critique of the desirability and inhabitability of a strictly masculine economy instead of an unintentional one; Emile and Julie are not extraordinary exceptions. And finally, I read both Julie and Les Solitaires