Talmud? Feminism? Materialism? Affect?  (Talk at University of Toronto)

ellsworth kelly

I’m making baby steps, so just in case I ended up botching it, I didn’t announce here at the blog or on FB this talk at the Anne Tannebaum Centre for Jewish Studies University of Toronto with the semi-okay title “In the Image In the Body: Philosophical Perspectives on Blood Colors, Affect, and Talmud.” But the talk turned out pretty well, much to my relief. There were lots of people, colleagues and students, with construvtive and challenging comments that pushed and pulled the paper where it needed to go. On bodies, bloods, and color in tractate Niddah of the Babylonian Talmud, this paper is part of a book I’m working on, In the Image: Aesthetic Jewish Thought and Philosophical Talmud. It should be obvious that Jewish philosophy should say something about the body, and that to do this you need feminist philosophy. The question is, which body of feminist philosophy and theory? I don’t want to go into the guts of the paper, but will say that the affect-material feminism-vital materialism theorists draw out the Talmudic material in very productive and often surprising ways. At the same time, I’m pretty sure I never would have “understood” the theory, i.e. taken to the theory, if it weren’t for the Talmud and its textual bodies. For historical perspective and philosophical edification, I’m finally sitting down to read Simone De Beauvoir’s The Second Sex . 

The basic point of the paper was to look at how the rabbis in b.Niddah get lost in shades of color and color associations in relation to bloods that may or may not be niddah-menstrual fluids. The material feminists are particularly good for their turn to the body and corporeal affect, the idea that material things are not simply dull or “gross” but possessed of their own vital energy. After years of gender theory and social construction of reality, material feminism represents a strong swerve back to the body and to nature.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish though and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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4 Responses to Talmud? Feminism? Materialism? Affect?  (Talk at University of Toronto)

    • zjb says:

      i’m keeping it a closely guarded secret

    • zjb says:

      The basic point of the paper was to look at how the rabbis in b.Niddah get lost in shades of color and color associations in relation to bloods that may or may not be niddah-menstrual fluids. The material feminists are particularly good for their turn to the body and corporeal affect, the idea that material things are not simply dull or “gross” but possessed of their own vital energy. After years of gender theory and social construction of reality, material feminism represents a strong swerve back to the body and to nature.

      • dmf says:

        yes thanks, all the hype around “new” materialisms does make me wonder if any of these folks have studied the physical sciences hardly a secret over there that materials have active properties…

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