In Becoming Undone, Elizabeth Grosz addresses three related concepts—life, politics, and art—by exploring the implications of Charles Darwin’s account of the evolution of species. Challenging characterizations of Darwin’s work as a form of genetic determinism, Grosz shows that his writing reveals an insistence on the difference between natural selection and sexual selection, the principles that regulate survival and attractiveness, respectively. Sexual selection complicates natural selection by introducing aesthetic factors and the expression of individual will, desire, or pleasure. Grosz explores how Darwin’s theory of sexual selection transforms philosophy, our understanding of humanity in its male and female forms, our ideas of political relations, and our concepts of art. Connecting the naturalist’s work to the writings of Bergson, Deleuze, and Irigaray, she outlines a postmodern Darwinism that understands all of life as forms of competing and coordinating modes of openness. Although feminists have been suspicious of the concepts of nature and biology central to Darwin’s work, Grosz proposes that his writings are a rich resource for developing a more politicized, radical, and far-reaching feminist understanding of matter, nature, biology, time, and becoming.
New Materialisms brings into focus and explains the significance of the innovative materialist critiques that are emerging across the social sciences and humanities. By gathering essays that exemplify the new thinking about matter and processes of materialization, this important collection shows how scholars are reworking older materialist traditions, contemporary theoretical debates, and advances in scientific knowledge to address pressing ethical and political challenges. In the introduction, Diana Coole and Samantha Frost highlight common themes among the distinctive critical projects that comprise the new materialisms. The continuities they discern include a posthumanist conception of matter as lively or exhibiting agency, and a reengagement with both the material realities of everyday life and broader geopolitical and socioeconomic structures.
Coole and Frost argue that contemporary economic, environmental, geopolitical, and technological developments demand new accounts of nature, agency, and social and political relationships; modes of inquiry that privilege consciousness and subjectivity are not adequate to the task. New materialist philosophies are needed to do justice to the complexities of twenty-first-century biopolitics and political economy, because they raise fundamental questions about the place of embodied humans in a material world and the ways that we produce, reproduce, and consume our material environment.
Contributors Sara Ahmed Jane Bennett Rosi Braidotti Pheng Cheah Rey Chow William E. Connolly Diana Coole Jason Edwards Samantha Frost Elizabeth Grosz Sonia Kruks Melissa A. Orlie
In this pathbreaking philosophical work, Elizabeth Grosz points the way toward a theory of becoming to replace the prevailing ontologies of being in social, political, and biological discourse. Arguing that theories of temporality have significant and underappreciated relevance to the social dimensions of science and the political dimensions of struggle, Grosz engages key theoretical concerns related to the reality of time. She explores the effect of time on the organization of matter and on the emergence and development of biological life. Considering how the relentless forward movement of time might be conceived in political and social terms, she begins to formulate a model of time that incorporates the future and its capacity to supersede and transform the past and present.
Grosz develops her argument by juxtaposing the work of three major figures in Western thought: Charles Darwin, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Henri Bergson. She reveals that in theorizing time as an active, positive phenomenon with its own characteristics and specific effects, each of these thinkers had a profound effect on contemporary understandings of the body in relation to time. She shows how their allied concepts of life, evolution, and becoming are manifest in the work of Gilles Deleuze and Luce Irigaray. Throughout The Nick of Time, Grosz emphasizes the political and cultural imperative to fundamentally rethink time: the more clearly we understand our temporal location as beings straddling the past and the future without the security of a stable and abiding present, the more transformation becomes conceivable.
Recently the distinguished feminist theorist Elizabeth Grosz has turned her critical acumen toward rethinking time and duration. Time Travels brings her trailblazing essays together to show how reconceptualizing temporality transforms and revitalizes key scholarly and political projects. In these essays, Grosz demonstrates how imagining different relations between the past, present, and future alters understandings of social and scientific projects ranging from theories of justice to evolutionary biology, and she explores the radical implications of the reordering of these projects for feminist, queer, and critical race theories.
Grosz’s reflections on how rethinking time might generate new understandings of nature, culture, subjectivity, and politics are wide ranging. She moves from a compelling argument that Charles Darwin’s notion of biological and cultural evolution can potentially benefit feminist, queer, and antiracist agendas to an exploration of modern jurisprudence’s reliance on the notion that justice is only immanent in the future and thus is always beyond reach. She examines Henri Bergson’s philosophy of duration in light of the writings of Gilles Deleuze, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and William James, and she discusses issues of sexual difference, identity, pleasure, and desire in relation to the thought of Deleuze, Friedrich Nietzsche, Michel Foucault, and Luce Irigaray. Together these essays demonstrate the broad scope and applicability of Grosz’s thinking about time as an undertheorized but uniquely productive force.