Feminist Philosophy at UNC Charlotte: Connecting Theory to Action
The Department of Philosophy at UNC Charlotte has a unique strength in feminism, and is an ideal place to pursue your interest in feminist philosophy and theory at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Philosophical feminism addresses a range of questions and issues, including the nature of sex, gender, sexuality, and sexual difference; the fate of women in the history of Western philosophy; the question of women’s identity and its intersections with other forms of identity and oppression; and the specific perspectives and concerns of women in relation to various metaphysical, aesthetic, ethical, social and political issues.
We have no less than four specialists in feminist philosophy with wide-ranging interests spanning ethics/bioethics, aesthetics, French feminism, history of philosophy (especially ancient and 20th/21st c. continental), queer theory, feminist jurisprudence, and critical race/postcolonial theory: Dr. Emanuela Bianchi, Dr. Tina Botts, Dr. Robin James, and Dr. Rosemarie Tong (see bios below). In addition to the Department’s regular course offerings in feminism (Feminist Philosophy; Feminist Theory and its Applications), any course you take with one of these four will foreground feminist perspectives. Importantly, feminist themes are also thoroughly integrated into our wider curriculum. For undergraduate majors, required courses such as “Knowledge and Reality,” “Ethical Theory,” and “Social and Political Philosophy” incorporate feminist perspectives, as do electives such as “Aesthetics,” “Philosophy and Race,” “Healthcare Ethics,” “Philosophy of Body," Philosophy of Law," and “Philosophy of Technology.” Furthermore, there are ample opportunities for interdisciplinary feminist study through courses cross-listed in the Women’s and Gender Studies program. We recommend combining a Philosophy B.A. or M.A. with a Minor or Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies as an excellent and rigorous education at UNC Charlotte focused in feminist studies. The Center for Professional and Applied Ethics based in our department also fosters feminist inquiry, and we can boast that no other MA Program in Applied Philosophy and Ethics in the United States has four philosophers equally but differently equipped to address feminist theory and practice.
Philosophy courses that encompass feminist perspectives include:
PHIL 2101/2102 Introduction to Philosophy
PHIL 3820 Feminist Philosophy
PHIL 3410 Knowledge and Reality
PHIL 3210 Ethical Theory
PHIL 3810 Social and Political Philosophy
PHIL 3010 Ancient Philosophy
PHIL 3020 Modern Philosophy
PHIL 3214 Contemporary Philosophy
PHIL 3220 Aesthetics
PHIL 3140 Existentialism
PHIL 3830 Philosophy and Race
PHIL 3230 Healthcare Ethics
PHIL 3930 Philosophy of Body
PHIL 3520 Philosophy of Science
PHIL 3420 Philosophy of Language
PHIL 3910 Philosophy of War and Peace
PHIL 3xxx Philosophy of Law
Recommended courses in Women’s and Gender Studies may include (others TBD):
WGST 3220 Feminist Thought
WGST 4140 African-American Feminism
WGST 4228 French Women Writers in Translation
WGST 4050/5050 Queer Theory
WGST 5050 Mysticism, Pornography, Subjectivity
WGST 3050 Religion & Sexuality
Graduate Study in Feminist Philosophy
Four of the nine members of the philosophy graduate faculty specialize in various aspects of feminist philosophy, including but not limited to: ethics/bioethics, aesthetics, French feminism, history of philosophy (especially ancient and 20th/21st century continental), queer theory, philosophy of law, and critical race/postcolonial theory. For students interested in feminist, gender, and queer theories, the MA in Ethics and Applied Philosophy can easily be combined with a graduate certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies. The WGST graduate certificate consists in 12 hours of coursework, three of which (PHIL/WGST 6627) can also count towards the philosophy MA. WGST requires that students take two core courses and two electives; we recommend that philosophy students earn their WGST certificate by taking all four core courses (and no “electives”), since the core courses are the most consistently theory-oriented courses in the WGST certificate program.
Philosophy graduate courses with a feminist component include:
PHIL/WGST 6320: Feminist Theory and its Applications (crosslisted with Women’s and Gender Studies)
PHIL 6310 Language and Violence
PHIL 6330 Race and Philosophy
PHIL 6220 Health Law and Ethics
PHIL 6230 Ethics, Biotechnology, and the New Genomics
PHIL 6240 Research Ethics in the Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences
PHIL 6250 Ethics of Public Policy
PHIL 6xxx Feminist Jurisprudence
PHIL 6xxx Law & Society
The remaining core courses in the WGST graduate certificate program are:
WGST 6601: Theoretical Approaches to Sexuality
WGST 6602: Theoretical Approaches to Gender
WGST 6603: Language, Gender and Power
For further information about our trio of feminist philosophers at UNC Charlotte please read below.
Emanuela Bianchi gained her Ph.D. from the New School for Social Research, where she founded the Graduate Faculty Women in Philosophy group and organized a feminist philosophy conference, the proceeds of which she later edited for the volume, Is Feminist Philosophy Philosophy? (Northwestern University Press, 1999). The answer to that question is of course, a resounding yes; the conference and volume sought to address the more interesting issue of why that would even be a question in the first place. Emma also spent time as both a predoctoral and postdoctoral visiting scholar at the Department of Rhetoric, U.C. Berkeley, and while her research is rooted in Ancient Greek philosophy, her philosophical approach invariably involves questions of gender and encompasses literary theory and psychoanalytic theory as well as phenomenology and hermeneutics. She’s completing a manuscript entitled, The Feminine Symptom: Aleatory Matter in the Aristotelian Cosmos, and is currently working on a book provisionally called Toward a Bastard Politics focused on formations of household, family, and sexuality in both antiquity and the present day.
“Aristotelian dunamis and sexual difference: An analysis of adunamia and dunamis meta logou in Metaphysics Theta,” Philosophy Today. 51, (Supplement 2007) 89-97
“Receptacle/Chora: Figuring the Errant Feminine in Plato’s Timaeus,” Hypatia. 21, 4 (Fall 2006) 124-146;
Material Vicissitudes and Technical Wonders: The Ambiguous Figure of Automaton in Aristotle’s Metaphysics of Sexual Difference,” Epoche 11, 1 (Fall 2006) 109-139.
“From (Sexual) Difference to (Sexual) Differend: A queer feminist reading of Broken Hegemonies,” Hegemony and Singularity: The Philosophy of Reiner Schürmann, eds. Vishwa Adluri and Alberto Martinengo. Northwestern University Press, forthcoming.
Tina Botts has a Ph.D. in philosophy and a graduate certificate in gender studies from the University of Memphis as well as a J.D. from Rutgers University – Camden. She joined the UNCC philosophy faculty in 2011. Her areas of specialization are philosophy of law, hermeneutics (philosophy of interpretation), and race theory. Her areas of competence are ethics, social and political philosophy, the history of philosophy, and knowledge and reality. Tina has been admitted to the bar in five jurisdictions (New York, D.C., Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Arkansas) and practiced law for fifteen years before completing her Ph.D. The general theme of Tina’s research is the philosophical examination and interrogation of existing legal, moral, and sociopolitical paradigms to determine the extent to which these paradigms produce results for marginalized, oppressed, and subjugated groups. In her dissertation, she employed legal hermeneutical methods to accomplish these goals (specifically, to explore the extent to which the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution operates to protect such persons). In current research, Tina uses the methods of both analytic and continental philosophy toward these ends. At UNCC, she teaches Philosophy of Law, Knowledge and Reality, and graduate seminars in Law and Society and Feminist Jurisprudence. Tina is also a Faculty Associate in the Center for Professional and Applied Ethics at UNC Charlotte and has plans to develop a non-profit, legal clinic in Charlotte focusing on addressing the legal needs of victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence.
Current research projects include:
Suspect Class Doctrine: An Instrument of Oppression
Critical Mixed Race Theory: A Primer
Charlotte of Mecklenburg and the Story of American Racism
“Identity and Associative Duties: Race and Global Human Rights”
“Gadamerian Dialogue En Route to Social Change”
“Equality: An American Ideal?”
“Hermeneutic Ontology and the Multiracial Experience”
“Natural Law Theory or Legal Interpretivism: The Mature Frederick Douglass’s Method of Constitutional Interpretation”
“Beyond Symbolism: The Mixed Race Experience in the 21st Century”
Law Review Articles
“Over a Hundred Years and Still Unequal: Women’s Equality in the 21st Century”
“Legal Hermeneutics: Anti-Method and Constitutional Theory”
“Antidiscrimination Law and the Multiracial Experience: A Reply to Nancy Leong”
“Separate But Equal Revisited: The Case of Same Sex Marriage”
“Phantoms and Fantasies: Originalism and the Bill of Rights”
Robin James arrived at UNC Charlotte in 2006 after finishing her Ph.D. in Philosophy at DePaul University. Her background is in continental philosophy, with an emphasis on feminist theory, critical race/postcolonial theory, and aesthetics/philosophy of music. Broadly, Robin’s research examines various intersections of aesthetics and politics; more narrowly, much of her work focuses on the race-gender politics of contemporary American popular music. For example, Robin has written about the role of race and gender in discourses of aesthetic taste, aesthetic receptivity, and the more contemporary but related notions of white hipness, postmillennial black hipness, and Afrofuturist black feminism. Robin is currently working on projects that take critical-race feminist approaches to Jacques Rancière’s work on politics and aesthetics, and another on women, gender, and early electronica. Her book The Conjectural Body: Gender, Race, and the Philosophy of Music is forthcoming from Rowman & Littlefield. At UNC Charlotte, Robin teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in feminist theory, critical race and postcolonial theory, continental philosophy, and popular music studies. She is also on the UNC Charlotte Women’s and Gender Studies Program Steering Committee, and coaches the Ethics Bowl team and co-advises the Philosophy Club. Informal scholarly(ish) writings on popular music, philosophy, and social identity can be found on Robin’s blog, “It’s Her Factory”.
“Robo-Diva R&B: politics, aesthetics, and images of black female robots in contemporary US pop culture” in The Journal of Popular Music Studies V. 20, No.4, 2008. pp 402-423.
“In but not of, of but not in: taste, hipness, and white embodiment” in Contemporary Aesthetics Special Volume 2 (2009), “Aesthetics and Race,” ed. Monique Roelofs.
James, Robin. “From Receptivity to Transformation: on the intersection of race, gender and the aesthetic in contemporary continental philosophy” in Convergences: Black Feminism and Continental Philosophy, eds. Maria Davidson, Donna-Dale Marcano, Kantryn Gines. Albany: SUNY Press, forthcoming 2009.
James, Robin. “Autonomy, Universality, and Playing the Guitar: On Non-Ideal Theory and Using the Master’s Tools” Hypatia Vol. 24, No. 4 (October-December 2009).
Rosemarie Tong is Distinguished Professor of Health Care Ethics in the Department of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Applied and Professional Ethics at UNC Charlotte. Receiving her PhD in Philosophy from Temple University in 1978, she has come to be internationally known for her contributions to feminist thought and bioethics. Rosie has authored and co-edited thirteen books, including Ethics in Policy Analysis (1985), Controlling our Reproductive Destiny: A Technological and Philosophical Perspective (1994), Feminist Approaches to Bioethics (1996), Linking Visions: Feminist Bioethics, Human Rights, and the Developing World with Ann Donchin and Sue Dodds (2004), New Perspectives in Health Care Ethics: An Interdisciplinary and Crosscultural Approach (2007) and Feminist Thought: A More Comprehensive Introduction (2008 3rd edition). She has also published over one hundred articles on topics related to feminist theory, reproductive and genetic technology, biomedical research, global bioethics, aging, and healthcare reform.
Since coming to UNC Charlotte, Rosie has worked hard to develop the mission, vision and goals of the Center for Professional and Applied Ethics. The Ethics Center works very closely with the Department of Philosophy on its joint Calendar of Events so that a diverse group of speakers can be brought to campus. Topics related to gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, and the like are routinely discussed. In addition, the Ethics Center collaborates with Women’s and Gender Studies; ADVANCE, which works to increase the presence and success of women in science, technology, engineering, and math; and a variety of off-campus groups concerned about gender and minority issues.
Currently, Rosie is focusing her work on global issues. In recent years she has traveled to the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Croatia, Australia, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, learning much from people in these countries about the status and needs of women in the sex, caregiver, and reproductive industries. Rosie’s current project is a feminist analysis of the thousands of migrant caseworkers who serve the multiple healthcare needs of the world’s burgeoning aging populations. She teaches a range of graduate courses, including Ethics of Public Policy, Healthcare Law and Ethics, Biomedical and Research Ethics, and Biotechnology and the New Genomics.