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SHARON GROVES A Question of Change hanging our minds: Feminist Transformations of Knowledge, edited by Susan Hardy Aiken, Karen Anderson, Myra Dinnerstein , Judy Nolte Lensink, and Patricia MacCorquodale, is a collection offeminist essays most ofwhich are written by men, framed by introductory and concluding essays by the editors. The odd sexual division of the anthology—female editors collecting and arranging the efforts of male essayists—does not signal another book about men and feminism, although it is possible to read the collection from this perspective. Rather women editing male work reflects the conditions of a curriculum transformation project at the University of Arizona where the feminist editors were teachers to male faculty "students." This project, a fouryear cross-disciplinary feminist "mainstreaming" experiment sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, targeted a specific group of forty-two men and three women, all tenured faculty in the humanities. The organizers' objective was to initiate a campus-wide curriculum transformation which would not only foster the inclusion of significant works by women in classroom curricula, but would also "encourage traditionally trained faculty to reformulate the conceptual frameworks of their disciplines, to acknowledge and analyze gender as a crucial organizing principle in human societies and cultural productions " (xiv). Essentially products of this experiment, the essays in this volume are a testimonial to the success of the seminar. The seductive focus of this book is on changing minds, the minds of the contributors and, in a larger sense, "changing the mind" of a dominant, male-centered, discipline-bound academic discourse which systematically excludes women as thinkers, and refuses to recognize the Arizona Quarterly Volume 45 Number 3, Autumn 19 Copyright © 1989 by Arizona Board of Regents ISSN 004-1610 Sharon Groves theoretical significance of gender in any study of "humanity." The emphasis in the title and throughout the collection of essays is on actual change, not simply as a concept but as the result of feminist collective action. As a motif for an anthology, "changing" minds is alluring because it shows how effective collective feminist action can be. The feminist "boundary crossing" necessary to effect such change reaffirms the feminist conception that transgressing traditionally discrete academic boundaries opens disciplines up to one another and enables the application of multiple methodological perspectives to a particular problem. By making interdisciplinary scholarship instrumental, and by combining personal narratives and "so-called" traditional academic rigor, and finally by crossing the boundary of gender by compelling men to write on feminist issues, a seductive appeal is made to feminist agency in transformations of knowledge. The success of this feminist agency is both the raison d'être and the most innovative aspect of this anthology. The appeal to actual change and the feminist ability to enact this transformation makes the volume difficult to evaluate. Because of the anthology's evidentiary function, it is impossible to appraise these essays outside of the particular curriculum program through which they were produced. Yet to validate the essays simply on the basis of the success ofthe "mainstreaming experiment"—on its having turned traditional academic males into scholars who recognize the existence of the other half of the world—risks reproducing a patriarchal structure all over again in which men come out the heroes. When the editors, for example, promote this collection as "the first ... to provide examples of significant scholarship by academics outside Women's Studies who, as a direct result of their participation in the curriculum integration process, have changed their minds, in the midst of their careers, about the foundations of their disciplines" (xv-xvi), it sounds suspiciously analogous to the acclaim my brother received in my family when he unexpectedly and in a burst ofgenerous good will crossed over inscribed gender lines to do the dishes, a task his sister had non-ceremoniously been expected to perform on a daily basis. In other words, despite its good intentions, does this book which celebrates a réévaluation of traditional assumptions about gender roles actually erase the female subject in the face of the courageous men's telling shift of perspective? The effect of men writing on feminism, men changing their minds about A Question of Changegg feminism, and the feminist participation in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1558-9595
Print ISSN
0004-1610
Pages
pp. 97-109
Launched on MUSE
2014-04-02
Open Access
No
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