Telling Time in Feminist Theory

Rita FelskiUniversity of Virginia
Vol. 21, No. 1 (Spring 2002), 21-28

This essay maps out four basic modes of feminist temporality that shape and circumscribe feminist thought: time as redemption, as regression, as repetition, and as rupture. The essay argues that to envision the shape of time is to be caught up in the expansive reaches of a moral and aesthetic vision. Time knits together the subjective and the social, the personal and the public; we forge links between our own lifetime and the larger historical patterns that transcend us. Feminist thinkers do not uniformly place time at the center of their theories, nor do they produce a unique version of time, but in comparison with many other types of thinking, they are more creative in their metaphors, more diverse in their stories, more promiscuous in their allegiances. While confusing, this multiplicity is one of the goods of feminism: what we need is a pragmatics, not a metaphysics, of time. The many times of feminism make it clear that no one time can do justice to the complexities of feminism or the world.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]