My turn to chime in with a big project update. I've been working on this blog, Troubling Rationality
, for most of the semester, and it's raising a bunch of questions for me, both intellectual and methodological. The initial aim, I should explain, was to get at the intellectual tradition of rationalism, stemming from the Enlightenment. Traditionally (in many spheres, including philosophy, certain strains of evolutionary theory, psychology, etc) rational thought has been placed in the domain of men, and women are said to be "irrational" or "emotional" or "intuitive" or what have you. For my blog, I'm looking at feminist ways of thinking non-rationally - not as a way of playing into the stereotype of the Irrational Woman, but as a way of resisting a male-constructed/male-valorized system of thought.
This, by the way, is probably the most coherent way I have managed to sum up this project this whole time!
So far, I've looked at works by Gertrude Stein, Julia Kristeva, María Lugones, and Gloria Anzaldúa. I've also thought about psychoanalytic and surrealist theories of the unconscious (and why they both may fall short of being feminist). I'm planning to post soon about two more books, "Women's Ways of Knowing" and "Eight Women Philosophers." But here are some problems I'm running into, and I'd really appreciate thoughts (as well as comments on the blog itself, which I'd love you all to check out if you've got a chance!):
Intellectual problem: I'm having trouble defining "rationality" across my blog posts, since it can variously include ideas like the scientific method, strains of logical argumentation, and (in Freud, for example) ideas about the conscious (vs. conscious) mind. Does it matter that there's this variation? In a blog about non-rationality, do I need a rigorous definition of terms? I feel like I'm skating a thin line of "you know it when you see it"... but the problem is, especially when you're venturing into the nonrational, you kind of do know it when you see it!
Methodological problem: I had originally planned to write five posts, each one putting two works in dialogue with each other (10 works in total). But I am having trouble keeping each post short enough, while still feeling like I'm exploring the text enough, so I've ended up writing separate posts for each of the books that I'm reading. This is more along the lines of Liz's question - but sometimes it's hard to convince myself that I'm saying something useful, when I'm restricting myself to blog-length posts! But, it's useful to me, anyway, so hopefully that counts for something. :)
Other question for the class: I'm having trouble finding books that speak directly to this issue (of rationality vs. not), and I'm wondering if, for the last few posts, you all had ideas of ways I could venture into non-written forms of expression. Can you think of visual or musical explorations of something we could call "non-rational argumentation"? I would love some class input!!