Feminist Interpretations of Alexis de Tocqueville

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This book moves beyond traditional readings of Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–59) and his relevance to contemporary democracy by emphasizing the relationship of his life and work to modern feminist thought. Within the resurgence of political interest in Tocqueville during the past two decades, especially in the United States, there has been significant scholarly attention to the place of gender, race, and colonialism in his work. This is the first edited volume to gather together a range of this creative scholarship. It reveals a tidal shift in the reception history of Tocqueville as a result of his serious engagement by feminist, gender, postcolonial, and critical race theorists.

The volume highlights the expressly normative nature of Tocqueville’s project, thus providing an overdue counterweight to the conventional understanding of Tocquevillean America as an actual place in time and history. By reading Tocqueville alongside the writings of early women’s rights activists, ethnologists, critical race theorists, contemporary feminists, neoconservatives, and his French contemporaries, among others, this book produces a variety of Tocquevilles that unsettles the hegemonic view of his work.

Seen as a philosophical source and a political authority for modern democracies since the publication of the twin volumes of Democracy in America (1835/1840), Tocqueville emerges from this collection as a vital interlocutor for democratic theorists confronting the power relations generated by intersections of gender, sexual, racial, class, ethnic, national, and colonial identities.

In addition to the editors, the contributors are Jocelyn Boryczka, Richard Boyd, Christine Carey, Barbara Cruikshank, Laura Janara, Matthew Holbreich, Kathleen S. Sullivan, Alvin B. Tillery Jr., Lisa Pace Vetter, Dana Villa, Cheryl B. Welch, and Delba Winthrop.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271034027
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 1/15/2009
  • Series: Re-Reading the Canon Series
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Jill Locke is Associate Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Department at Gustavus Adolphus College.

Eileen Hunt Botting is Rolfs Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Gender Studies Program at the University of Notre Dame.��

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Table of Contents




Introduction: To Tocqueville and Beyond

Jill Locke and Eileen Hunt Botting

1. Beyond the Bon Ménage: Tocqueville and the Paradox of Liberal Citoyennes

Cheryl B. Welch

2. Democracy’s Family Values

Laura Janara

3. Tocqueville and the Feminization of the Bourgeoisie

Dana Villa

4. A Family Resemblance: Tocqueville and Wollstonecraftian Protofeminism

Eileen Hunt Botting

5. Aristocratic Mourning: Tocqueville, John Quincy Adams, and the Affairs of Andrew Jackson

Jill Locke

6. Sympathy, Equality, and Consent: Tocqueville and Harriet Martineau on Women and Democracy in America

Lisa Pace Vetter

7. Tocqueville’s American Woman and “The True Conception of Democratic Progress.”

Delba Winthrop

8. Toward a Generative Theory of Equality

Kathleen S. Sullivan

9. Imperial Fathers and Favorite Sons: J. S. Mill, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Nineteenth-Century Visions of Empire

Richard Boyd

10. Tocqueville, Black Writers, and American Ethnology: Rethinking the Foundations of Whiteness Studies

Alvin B. Tillery Jr.

11. The Separate Spheres Paradox: Habitual Inattention and Democratic Citizenship

Jocelyn M. Boryczka

12. Tocqueville’s Authority: Feminism and Reform “Between Government and Civil Society”

Barbara Cruikshank

Annotated Bibliography on Alexis de Tocqueville and Gender, Feminism, and Race

Christine Carey



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