240: Suggested Noncanonical Readings List

Note [Nov. 20th]: Due to technical difficulties, I lost my working list and its backup early into the term, which I had been developing during the summer. The list below is a partial start back toward that list. While our course is coming to an end, I will continue to update this list with readings over time, in case your interest in the course continues or remains beyond the confines of the classroom.


Philosophy has a history of disproportionate representation of privileged identity groups, both in the holding of academic positions and in the philosophical literature. Philosophy of mind can sometimes be particularly white, male, nondisabled, and otherwise narrow in insight. This reading list is meant to help point you toward other readings and materials which might address the topics we cover, which are in some sense “noncanonical”, and where you might find your own identity or thoughts better represented, or where you can turn to broaden your interests and understanding.

By non-canonical readings I mean both (i) those readings not considered in the typical philosophical canon, and (ii) those readings or materials by people who do not fit the canonical image of a philosopher. I’ll also try to add in any other readings I mention in class, even if they are not themselves noncanonical. My many thanks to everyone who has helped recommend readings and other works.

The readings below are presented in no order but that by which I add them. The hope is, by scrolling through, you’ll find something that may interest you that you wouldn’t have seen in a targeted search. Of course, you can still use your browser’s built-in search function to find specific readings. Clicking the title of the piece linked will send you to the resource, where I’ve been able to locate such a link.

  1. Barbara Gail Montero’s essay “The Body Problem”. In it, she asks just what it means to be physical, arguing that an answer to the mind-body problem first needs an answer to what she calls the “body problem”. She also has a blog at https://barbaramontero.wordpress.com/
  2. Sara Ahmed’s book “Queer Phenomenology”. In it, she examines what it means for bodies to be situated in space and time, and how a queer phenomenology reveals how social relations are arranged spatially, how queerness disrupts and reorders these relations. She also has a blog at http://feministkilljoys.com
  3. Jenny Reardon‘s and Kim TallBear’s paper “Your DNA Is Our History: Genomics, Anthropology, and the Construction of Whiteness as Property”. In it, they “seek to bring greater clarity and visibility to these constitutive links between whiteness, property, and the human sciences in order that the fields of biological anthropology and population genetics might work to move toward their stated commitments to antiracism”.
  4. Hélène Cixous‘s essay “The Laugh of the Medusa“. In it, she discusses the female body and women’s sexuality with regard to writing, and develops the notion of écriture féminine, which would continue to be explored by what  Mary Klages calls the French “poststructuralist theoretical feminists”.
  5. Talia Mae Bettcher‘s paper “Trans Identities and First-Person Authority”. In it, she argues that transgender persons should be considered to have “first-person authority” over their gender, and explores what exactly that means.
  6. Amy Mullin‘s paper “Selves, Diverse and Divided: Can Feminists Have Diversity without Multiplicity?“. In it, she explores ways of thinking about divisions and diversity within a self, and how to think of the self as diverse but not composite. Amy Mullin is a philosopher in our department, and currently the Dean of Arts and Sciences at UTM.
  7. bell hooks‘ book “Talking Back: Thinking Feminist Thinking Black“. This book is a collection of essays, many of which look at the relationships between speech and identity. In particular, her chapter “‘when i was a young soldier for the revolution’: coming to voice” includes comments against the standard academic notion of a singular authentic identity.
  8. Noël Merino‘s paper “The Problem with “We”: Rethinking Joint Identity in Romantic Love“. In it, she argues that we should resist the idea that a unified identity is developed in cases of romantic love.
  9. Rosemarie Garland-Thomson‘s paper “Misfits: A Feminist Materialist Disability Concept“. In it, she explores the critical concept of a “misfit” in order to explore the lived experiences and identities of disability, while considering “how the particularities of embodiment interact with the environment in its broadest sense”.
  10. Ana Paula Mireles Andrade‘s masters thesis “Snapping, Sharing… Being. Digital Online Photography and Identity Construction“. In it, she explores the roles that selfies and other photography play in mediating between online and offline identities and identity formation.

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