Reading list

Feminism and Gender Undergraduate Reading List

Verso Books 6 September 2016

Feminism and Gender Undergraduate Reading List

Just in time for the beginning of the school year, we've launched the second set of our Feminist Classics series with the reissue of Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World and Close to Home: A Materialist Analysis of Women's Oppression. Kumari Jayawardena's Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World is a major text of transnational feminism that contains "the possiblity of reclaiming a belief in the broad, global universality of women's struggles," as Rafia Zakara writes in the foreword, while Christine Delphy's Close to Home analyzes how the patriarchy — a shifting structure — continously exploits unpaid women's labor. Our Feminist and Gender Undergradaute list mixes foundational texts in critical and left feminist traditions with contemporary books on sex work, gender identity and fluidity, political exile, and theories of feminism in the age of neoliberalism.

The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg

by Rosa Luxemburg
Edited by Georg Adler, Peter Hudis, and Annelies Laschitza; Translated by George Shriver

"She emerges as one of the most emotionally intelligent socialists in modern history, a radical of luminous dimension whose intellect is informed by sensibility, and whose largeness of spirit places her in the company of the truly impressive.” — Vivian Gornick, the Nation

The most comprehensive collection of letters by Rosa Luxemburg ever published in English, this book includes 190 letters written to leading figures in the European and international labor and socialist movements—Leo Jogiches, Karl Kautsky, Clara Zetkin and Karl Liebknecht—who were among her closest friends, lovers and colleagues. Her political concerns are revealed alongside her personal struggles within a socialist movement that was often hostile to independently minded women.

Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg
by Kate Evans; edited by Paul Buhle

"If it were a movie, you might call Red Rosa a tour de force, but that would be short-changing it." — Los Angeles Review of Books

A giant of the political left, Rosa Luxemburg is one of the foremost minds in the canon of revolutionary socialist thought. But she was much more than just a thinker. She made herself heard in a world inimical to the voices of strong-willed women. She overcame physical infirmity and the prejudice she faced as a Jew to become an active revolutionary whose philosophy enriched every corner of an incredibly productive and creative life—her many friendships, her sexual intimacies, and her love of science, nature and art.

I, Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala

by Rigoberta Menchú
Edited by Elisabeth Burgos-Debray
Translated by Ann Wright

Now a global bestseller, the remarkable life of Rigoberta Menchú, a Guatemalan peasant woman, reflects on the experiences common to many Indian communities in Latin America. Menchú suffered gross injustice and hardship in her early life: her brother, father and mother were murdered by the Guatemalan military. She learned Spanish and turned to catechistic work as an expression of political revolt as well as religious commitment. Menchú vividly conveys the traditional beliefs of her community and her personal response to feminist and socialist ideas. Above all, these pages are illuminated by the enduring courage and passionate sense of justice of an extraordinary woman.

Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work
by Melissa Gira Grant

“Makes precisely clear that a culture that polices, silences and marginalizes women who sell sex is a culture that cares nothing about women. Period.”
— Janet Mock, author of Redefining Realness

Based on ten years of writing and reporting on the sex trade, and grounded in her experience as an organizer, advocate, and former sex worker, Playing the Whore dismantles pervasive myths about sex work, criticizes both conditions within the sex industry and its criminalization, and argues that separating sex work from the "legitimate" economy only harms those who perform sexual labor.

Trans: A Memoir
by Juliet Jacques
Afterword by Sheila Heti

"Trans broadens the growing genre of trans literature in its portrayal of medical and social transition as a means of achieving personal congruity rather than ostensible womanhood." — The Gay & Lesbian Review

In July 2012, aged thirty, Juliet Jacques underwent sex reassignment surgery—a process she chronicled with unflinching honesty in a serialised national newspaper column. Trans tells of her life to the present moment: a story of growing up, of defining yourself, and of the rapidly changing world of gender politics.

Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World
by Kumari Jayawardena
Foreword by Rafia Zakaria

For twenty-five years, Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World has been an essential primer on the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century history of women’s movements in Asia and the Middle East. In this engaging and well-researched survey, Kumari Jayawardena presents feminism as it originated in the Third World, erupting from the specific struggles of women fighting against colonial power, for education or the vote, for safety, and against poverty and inequality.

Class War: The Privatization of Childhood
by Megan Erickson

"Megan Erickson deftly skewers neoliberal myths about education and child-rearing in this must-read book." — Liza Featherstone

In an age of austerity, elite corporate education reformers have found new ways to transfer the costs of raising children from the state to individual families. Public schools, tasked with providing education, childcare, job training, meals, and social services to low-income children, struggle with cutbacks. Meanwhile, private schools promise to nurture the minds and personalities of future professionals to the tune of $40,000 a year. As Class War reveals, this situation didn’t happen by chance.

Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis
by Nancy Fraser

"Fraser asks: What became of feminism in the wake of the neoliberal turn?…This book is required reading for feminists of all persuasions." 
Science and Society

Nancy Fraser’s major new book traces the feminist movement’s evolution since the 1970s and anticipates a new—radical and egalitarian—phase of feminist thought and action.

Straight Sex: Rethinking the Politics of Pleasure
by Lynne Segal

“Once again, Lynne Segal cuts through feminist ambivalence about sex with great intelligence, verve, and courage ... a stunning manifesto of sexual liberation.” — Barbara Ehrenreich

Is heterosexual sex inherently damaging to women? This is the central question of Straight Sex, Lynne Segal’s account of twentyfive years of feminist thinking on sexuality. Covering the thought of sixties-era sexual liberationists, alongside the ensuing passionate debates over sex and love within feminist and lesbian communities, Segal covers certain shifts toward greater sexual conservatism in the eighties. Straight Sex examines an array of issues, including sex as a subversive activity, the “liberated orgasm,” sex advice literature, gender uncertainties, queer politics, anti-pornography campaigns and the rise of the moral right.

Return: A Palestinian Memoir
by Ghada Karmi

“In Ghada Karmi’s Return, the reality of Palestinian life begins to come into focus. It is the reality of exile.” — Yasmine El Rashidi, Bookforum

Having grown up in Britain following her family's exile from Palestine, doctor, author and academic Ghada Karmi leaves her adoptive home in a quest to return to her homeland. She starts work with the Palestinian Authority and gets a firsthand understanding of its bizarre bureaucracy under Israel’s occupation.

Close to Home: A Materialist Analysis of Women's Oppression
by Christine Delphy
Translated by Diana Leonard
Foreword by Rachel Hills

Close to Home is the classic study of family, patriarchal ideologies, and the politics and strategy of women’s liberation. On the table in this forceful and provocative debate are questions of whether men can be feminists, whether “bourgeois” and heterosexual women are retrogressive members of the women’s movement, and how best to struggle against the multiple oppressions women endure.

Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman by Michele Wallace

Originally published in 1978, Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman caused a storm of controversy. Michele Wallace blasted the masculine biases of the black politics that emerged from the sixties. She described how women remained marginalized by the patriarchal culture of Black Power, demonstrating the ways in which a genuine female subjectivity was blocked by the traditional myths of black womanhood. With a foreword that examines the debate the book has sparked between intellectuals and political leaders, as well as what has—and, crucially, has not—changed over the last four decades, Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman continues to be deeply relevant to current feminist debates and black theory today.

SCUM Manifesto
by Valerie Solanas
Introduction by Avital Ronell

SCUM Manifesto was considered one of the most outrageous, violent and certifiably crazy tracts when it first appeared in 1968. Valerie Solanas, the woman who shot Andy Warhol, self-published this work just before her rampage against the king of Pop Art made her a household name and resulted in her confinement to a mental institution. But for all its vitriol, it is impossible to dismiss as unhinged. In fact, the work has indisputable prescience, not only as a radical feminist analysis light-years ahead of its timepredicting artificial insemination, ATMs, a feminist uprising against under-representation in the artsbut also as a stunning testament to the rage of an abused and destitute woman.

Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution - UK ONLY
by Shulamith Firestone

An international bestseller, originally published in 1970, when Shulamith Firestone was just twenty-five years old, The Dialectic of Sex was the first book of the women’s liberation movement to put forth a feminist theory of politics. Ultimately she presents feminism as the key radical ideology, the missing link between Marx and Freud, uniting their visions of the political and the personal. The Dialectic of Sex remains remarkably relevant today—a testament to Firestone’s startlingly prescient vision.

False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Rodham Clinton, edited by Liza Featherstone

To get a woman in the White House, it’s thought, would be an achievement for all women everywhere, a kind of trickle-down feminism. In False Choices, an all-star lineup of feminists contests this simplistic reading of the candidate. A detailed look at Hillary Clinton’s track record on welfare, Wall Street, criminal justice, education, and war reveals that she has advanced laws and policies that have done real harm to the lives of women and children across the country and the globe. 

Women's Work, Men's Property: The Origins of Gender and Class edited by Stephanie Coontz and Peta Henderson is an important book from Verso's history that explores the sociohistorical roots of gender inequality.

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft remains one of history's most important and elegant broadsides against sexual oppression.

More reading lists:

Philosophy Undergraduate Reading List
Art and Aesthetics Undergraduate Reading List
Economics Undergraduate Reading List
Race and Ethnicity Undergraduate Reading List

History Undergraduate Reading List
Political Theory Undergraduate Reading List
Cities and Architecture Undergraduate Reading List

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