In her book on depression, Ann Cvetkovich posits that bad feelings and feeling bad – here, depression – might be the “ground for transformation”. Within this framework, she suggests that the question “How do I feel?” can productively be transformed as “How does capitalism feel?” (2012: 4). This course will consider not only how capitalism feels, but how capitalism, late capitalism, and the possibility of capitalism’s end shape our lives, our relationships, our work, and our identities.
Any course on capitalism ought to begin with an exploration of Karl Marx and Frederich Engels. We will read selections of their work (The Manifesto, Capital, and On the Origins of the Family) in order to understand the social relationships that are determined by and required of this economic system. As many feminist readers will be quick to note, Marx’s analysis of the class system has not always made space for understanding women’s oppressions. Inspired by New Left politics of the 1960s, which embraced anti-capitalist class politics but were resistant to transform gender roles, leftist feminists nevertheless drew on both Marx and Engels in an effort to produce theories of power that could explain both gender and class exploitations. Though often left out of contemporary narratives of the “second wave,” this scholarship played a vital role in feminist theory in the 1970s and 1980s. Armed with gendered analysis of class, capitalism, and labour, some feminist scholars attended carefully to the gendered specificities of women’s work lives (i.e., the second shift and the emotional labour associated with “women’s work,” both derived from the work of sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild); others insisted on what would come to be described as “intersectional” analyses that place class in relationship with race and gender (i.e., Angela Davis’ Women, Race, and Class; or “Between the Lines: On Culture, Class, and Homophobia” in This Bridge Called My Back). The class will consider both the legacy of earlier feminist materialist approaches to capitalism, labour, and class, and the capacity of this work to serve as a resource to contemporary feminist theories and politics.
Instructor: MEAGHER, Michelle
Days & Time: M, 14:00 - 17:00
Note: Taught in conjunction with WGS 504 B1