Adorno, Culture and Feminism


Edited by: Maggie O'Neill

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    To Marie and Bill, Steve, Patrick and James

    The Contributors

    Regina Becker-Schmidt is Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Hanover, Germany, and has also been a visiting professor of feminist theory at the University of Vienna, University of Linz, University of Connecticut, University of Advanced Studies of Vienna and Roskilde University, Denmark. Regina received her doctorate from the Institute for Social Research, Frankfurt-on-Main and her research interests are focused upon gender relations and the constitution of gender difference as well as the social psychology of technology. Regina teaches critical theory, psychoanalysis, social psychology and political psychology and has authored and co-authored (with Gudrun Axeli Knapp) a number of books concerning working-class women, gender relations and social formation, technological development and androcentrism. These include Arbeitsleben-Lebensarbeit; Geschlechtertrennung-Geschlechterdifferenz; Arbeiterkinder; Das Gesch-lechterverhältnis als Gegenstand der Sozialwissenschaften; and Zeitbilder der Technik.

    Sinkwan Cheng is a Research Associate in the English and Comparative Literature Department at the University of California, Irvine, USA. She has published seven articles and reviews in various areas including psychoanalysis, French and German critical theory, post-colonial and cultural studies, twentieth-century British and Asian American literature, as well as legal and political philosophy. Her dissertation was awarded a distinction by the Department of Comparative Literature at the State University of New York, Buffalo in the summer of 1995, and, at the invitation of Henry Sussman, is currently being revised for possible inclusion in his ‘Psychoanalysis and Culture’ series. She also won an Excellence in Teaching Award at SUNY, Buffalo, in a campus-wide competition.

    Barbara Engh is Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds, UK. Her essay on music and critique in the work of Roland Barthes (‘Loving it: music and criticism in Roland Barthes’) appears in Ruth Solle's Musicology and Difference: Gender and Sexuality in Music Scholarship, and an essay ‘Adorno and the Sirens: tele-phono-graphic bodies’ appears in Embodied Voices: Representing Female Vocality in Western Culture (1994). At present Barbara is writing a book on phonography, entitled After ‘His Master's Voice’: Post-phonographic Aurality.

    Hilde Heynen is Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture, Urban Design and Planning at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. She has published articles in Assemblage, Archis and other periodicals. She is the author of Architecture and Modernity: A Critique (1999). Hilde's research currently concentrates on issues of architecture, gender and the city.

    Gudrun Axeli Knapp is Professor at the Psychological Institute, University of Hanover, Germany. Axeli's research interests are in the sociology of gender relations and social psychology of gender differences; feminist theory and methodology. She has published articles on feminist theory in various journals and books and is co-editor of Traditionen Brüche. Entwick-lungen feministischer Theorie (1992), Das Geschlechterverhältnis als Gegenstand der Sozialwissenschaften (1995) and of the volume on Interdisciplinary of l'Homme, the Austrian journal for feminist history (1995). The most recent publication edited by her is Kurskorrekturen: Feminismus zwischen kritischer Theorie und Postmoderne (1998).

    Silvia L. López is Assistant Professor of Spanish at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota, USA. Her research interests are in critical theory and Latin American literature. She has published on Central American literature, Latin American cultural theory and on Walter Benjamin. Her current work focuses upon social and cultural modernity at the turn of the century in Latin America.

    Juliet Flower MacCannell is Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine, USA and Research Professor at University of California, Berkeley, Department of Rhetoric. Juliet has published fifty scholarly articles and several books whose subjects range from Rousseau and Stendhal to Atwood, Duras, Hannah Arendt, and matters of evil, fascism, violence and beauty, as well as contemporary psychoanalytic theories of culture. She recently founded a research group for psychoanalysis and the arts, Encore 2, which is planning to publish a journal. Her best-known books are The Regime of the Brother (1991), Refiguring Lacan (1986) and Thinking Bodies (1994). Juliet co-edited Feminism and Psychoanalysis: A Critical Dictionary (1992) and translated Hélène Cixous's The Terrible but Unfinished Story of Norodom Sihanouk, King of Cambodia (1993). She co-wrote The Time of the Sign with Dean MacCannell (1982). Juliet was named President of the Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Culture and Society and in 1994 was named artist-in-residence, Moonhole, Bequia by the Engelhard Foundation and the Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston. Her new book, Things to Come: The Hysteric's Guide to the Future Female Subject, will be published in 1999.

    Maggie O'Neill is Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Womens' Studies at Staffordshire University, UK. Maggie's research interests include critical and cultural theory, prostitution, masculinities, ethnographic field methods, especially feminist participatory action research. She has conducted extensive ethnographic action research with women and young people working as prostitutes in the UK, including comparative research with colleagues in Spain. She is currently conducting participatory action research with ‘refugees’ and ‘asylum seekers’. Adorno's and Benjamin's notion of mimesis is a key organizing concept in her research methodology. Her publications include work on responses to child and juvenile prostitution; and a number of publications arising from ethnographic, participatory action research with female prostitutes. Her book Prostitution and Feminism will be published in 1999.

    Shierry Weber Nicholsen is Profesor of Interdisciplinary Studies with the Graduate programme on Environment and Community at Antioch University in Seattle, USA. Her publications include translations of numerous works by Adorno and Habermas, including Adorno's Notes to Literature and Hegel: Three Studies. Shierry is also the author of Exact Imagination/Late Work: On Adorno's Aesthetics (1997). Her research interests include the phenomenology of aesthetic experience and ecological consciousness; and psychoanalytical perspectives on environmental consciousness.


    My thanks must go, first of all, to Chris Rojek who encouraged this book project and also to Robert Rojek and Pascale Carrington, for they all supported it through to completion. Thanks to the contributors who have ‘made’ the book and for their patience. Thanks to Martin Jay for helpful suggestions regarding contributors as well as for encouraging the project. John O'Neill read and commented on my sections – thank you, John. Communication with Shierry Weber Nicholsen most certainly enhanced the project. Thank you to the American reader whose very helpful comments I have included in my revisions. My colleagues at Staffordshire – Barbara Kennedy, Ruth Holliday, David Bell and Janice Richardson – gave me critical and supportive comments: thank you, everyone. Thanks must also go to Conrad Lodziak who introduced me to the work of Adorno. Last, but by no means least, thanks to Jackie Clewlow for secretarial assistance, and to Barbara McCarthy and Lesley Harvey at the Staffordshire University Slide Library.


    This collection brings together a range of essays on the works and life of Theodor Adorno by feminist scholars and feminist-informed scholars, working within and between the disciplines of sociology, aesthetics, philosophy and cultural studies. The purpose of this text is to address the extent to which feminists can find sources of critique, analysis and insight in Adorno's work. The breadth and scope of the feminist scholarship represented here is of great significance not only to the literature on Theodor Adorno, his life and work, but to the growing presence and voices of women in critical social theory. The text centres on the development of feminist analysis of Adorno's works contextualized within changing historical, social and cultural processes and practices. In using Adorno, the contributors to this volume have found an aid to exploring our situatedness within wider social contexts marked by the ‘mediation’ between unity, difference and power.

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