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Nancy Tuana

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Feminist Interpretations of Jean-Paul Sartre (Re-Reading the Canon)
The Less Noble Sex : Scientific, Religious, and Philosophical Conceptions of Woman's Nature (Race, Gender, and Science) by Nancy Tuana

The Less Noble Sex provides a framework for understanding the persistence of the Western patriarchal view of woman as inferior. Tuana examines beliefs that were accepted a priori as evidence of women's inferiority and studies early theories of woman's nature to illustrate the way scientific literature, was influenced by -- and in turn affected -- religious and philosophical tenets.  

"An important book for the educated general public as well as for scholars in many disciplines. Highly recommended." -- Library Journal

"Students and researchers alike will welcome this carefully argued volume that so clearly traces the dominant contours of Western conceptions about women."  -- Isis

"Nancy Tuana's book is brilliant. In under two hundred pages she presents a concise account of how women have been perceived in relation to men in the Western world for the past 2,500 years." -- American Historical Review

"A wide-ranging discussion of conceptions of women in science, philosophy and religion from ancient times to the late nineteenth century, Tuana's book makes it devastatingly clear how powerful and how deeply rooted was the Western idea of women as men's inferiors."  -- Women's Review of Books

" . . . an unusually readable account of the image of women from the Greeks to the nineteenth century, wedded to a highly interesting argument about the way religion and philosophy affect the direction of the work of scientists, and how the work of scientists is used by philosophers and clergy to give authority to the more abstract world of ideas."  -- Magill Book Reviews

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Biographical Information

From the Feminist Theory Website, this page features a short bio written by Nancy Tuana, as well as a  bibliography of Tuana's work, including books, edited books, and articles.


Nancy Tuana's Homepage

Nancy Tuana is currently working on a book, Philosophy of Science Studies investigating methodological and conceptual changes in the philosophy of science from the 1950's to the current period. This study traces the influence of social science perspectives, including both sociology of science and cognitive sciences, upon the practice of philosophy of science.

She is also working on developing an alternative to the current divide between realist and social constructivist positions. Her arguments for an interactionalist position can be found in her forthcoming article "Material Locations."

Her position categories of sex and gender are a third research focus. A recent article on this topic is "Fleshing Gender, Sexing the Body."


Material Locations

An Interactionalist Alternative to Realism/Social Constructivism by Nancy Tuana.


I locate my analysis in the midst of an ongoing debate, a debate where even the terms are contested. Some refer to it as "Realism vs. Social Constructivism," others refer to it as "Realism vs. Anti-Realism." Although there is much at stake in this controversy, I locate my interests around assumptions concerning material locations, for I believe that this is a productive site for unraveling a serious limitation in the way these debates are framed. It is my contention that feminist work in epistemology and science studies has begun to identify the need for a close and nuanced examination of the complexities of materiality, including the cognitive impact of embodiment and the relationships between human materiality and the materiality of the more than human world. Our investigations are beginning to raise serious concerns regarding the adequacy of the metaphysical assumptions of realist positions. But our inquiries are also undermining the natural/ cultural distinction posited or implied by social constructivist accounts...


Fleshing Gender, Sexing the Body

By Nancy Tuana, forthcoming in Rethinking Sex and Gender, ed. Tina Chanter, Cambridge.


I want to call attention to bodies -- fleshed, pulsating, volatile bodies. Over a decade ago I argued that the distinction between sex and gender was pernicious and advocated that feminists refuse its polarization. Here I continue this argument and do so by focusing on bodies. I believe that in embracing the distinction between sex and gender we have inadvertently contributed to a problematic neglect of bodies in feminist scholarship...


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