Moral Textures: Feminist Narratives in the Public Sphere
Moral Textures: Feminist Narratives in the Public Sphere

In this original work, the Mexican political philosopher, Maria Pia Lara, develops a new approach to public sphere theory and a novel understanding of the history of the feminist struggle. When dominated groups create publicly–oriented social movements, she argues, they seek to frame their demands in compelling narrative forms. Through these new tales, they can become, for the first time, active subjects in their own stories. Developing this theoretical model, Lara offers new interpretations of Habermas and Arendt as well as of feminist debates about their work. Critically relating Wellmers and Ricoeurs aesthetic ideas to public sphere theory, she also confronts the limitations of the Foucaultian tradition that informs so much post–structuralist feminism today. In making her argument, Lara examines a very wide range of womens narratives, from autobiographies of eighteenth–century salonnieres and of contemporary women activists to the novels of Jane Austen and the portrayal of women in television and film. Taking stock of contemporary feminist writings in social science, history, literature, jurisprudence and philosophy, she suggests that they can be viewed not only as empirical accounts of injustices but as cultural narratives that have transformed women?s particular identities even as they have expanded universal moral claims in a revolutionary way.

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