ELIZABETH V. SPELMAN
Professor of Philosophy
Barbara Richmond 1940 Professor in the Humanities
Office: Dewey Hall 201
Phone: (413) 585-3646
Much of my teaching and research has fallen roughly into four areas.
My interest in what has come to be called critical race feminism is most thoroughly represented in Inessential Woman: Problems of Exclusion in Feminist Thought (Beacon Press, 1988). In it and related articles I investigate the implications of the intersection or intertwining of ‘racial,’ gender and other aspects of women’s identities.
Another focus of inquiry has been the ways in which our emotions are shaped by and give shape to political dimensions of human relationships. In Fruits of Sorrow: Framing Our Attention to Suffering (Beacon, 1997), I examine the positive and negative implications of regarding sufferers as tragic figures, or objects of compassion, or bearers of experiences from which others can learn or otherwise profit.
In Repair: The Impulse to Restore in a Fragile World (Beacon, 2002), and subsequent essays, I explore the ubiquity and variety of repair activities humans engage in (or judge not possible or not desirable to undertake) – from fixing cars to mending friendships to repairing the larger social and political fabric.
My current long-term project focuses on Homo sapiens as Homo trasho: that is, on humans as beings who are makers of waste, who have complex ethical, aesthetic, and political relations to waste, who sometimes are treated as waste, who in fact in some sense are the products of waste. (Yes, the book promises to be pure rubbish.)