Gendered Conference Campaign Continues

You’d think that by now philosophy conference organizers would stop and think — if all my keynoters are white men, might there be a wee bit of a problem?

I have to think about this all the time as associate editor of the Kettering Review.  We put together issues by topic and include pieces ancient and contemporary, some reprinted, others published first by us.  Often the first pieces that come to our attention are written by those who have had easier access to the world of letters, generally men of European ancestry.  But any one of our  issues is always much stronger for seeking out the pieces written by people from the rest of the planet.

So, kudos to the Feminist Philosophers’ Gendered Conference Campaign for keeping us appraised of all those oblivious ones who keep churning out conferences featuring men only.

The favorites’ favorites — another round of PGR rankings of continental philosophy

I see that Brian Leiter has posted a preview of the five 20th century continental programs that his reviewers like best, certainly all fine programs: Columbia University; Georgetown University; University of California, Riverside; University of Chicago; and University of Notre Dame. I wasn’t surprised by the absence of “spep-ish” departments, as the bleiterites are wont to put it, for it is rare that a “spep-ish” continental philosopher serves as an evaluator. (Never mind that the big tent called the Society for Phenomenology and Existentialist Philosophy is the second largest philosophical society in North America, next to the American Philosophical Association, and, I would hazard, the largest continental philosophy society in the world. So to call a program with strengths in continental philosophy “spep-ish” is like calling any program in philosophy “apa-ish”  —  it’s practically trivial.)

(Also, I am not at all surprised by the omission of the Emory University program for we simply do not participate in the rankings.)

I have long argued that the fatal flaw of these reports is that the evaluators do not represent a cross-section of the field.  So, to try to make this point a bit more pointedly, take a look at the names of the 24 evaluators for 20th Century Continental Philosophy programs:

James Bohman, Steven Crowell, Maudemarie Clark, David Dudrick, Gordon Finlayson, Max de Gaynesford, Charles Guignon, Gary Gutting, Beatrice Han-Pile, Scott Jenkins, Pierre Keller, Michelle Kosch, Brian Leiter, Dean Moyar, Stephen Mulhall, Brian O’Connor, Peter Poellner, Bernard Reginster, Michael Rosen, Joseph Schear, Iain Thomson, Georgia Warnke, Mark Wrathall, Julian Young.

This is a great group, including many I personally know and admire.  But let me explain how it does not at all represent a cross-section of philosophers doing work in 20th Century Continental Philosophy.  I took a couple hours this evening to consult the websites and phil papers sites, etc. of members of this group, and made notes of what areas they worked in — in their own words.

Only three-quarters specialize in any area of 20th Century Continental Philosophy. (Unless I am mistaken, Maudemarie Clark, Max de Gaynesford, Scott Jenkins, Michelle Kosch, Brian Leiter, and Dean Moyar have specialties elsewhere, but not here.)

There is a solid group doing work in existentialism, phenomenology, and critical theory, but only four of the 24 specialize in post-1968 French philosophy.  Of those four, only two of the 24 evaluators (Stephen Crowell and Charles Guignon) profess to have any expertise on any of the major thinkers of French poststructuralism after Foucault.

Nietzsche scholars were very well represented (nine of 24), including many who have been published by or with the author of the reports.

So for students interested in the full range of important work in 20th Century Continental Philosophy, especially work post-1968, I encourage a trip to the library, not to the PGR.

the responsibility of being a woman in philosophy

As i’ve posted before, the website inviting people to report what it’s like to be a woman in philosophy is a huge gift.  In many places, apparently, it sucks. I gather especially in those “Leiterrific” departments that see themselves as doing hard core philosophy.   Hmmmm.

I know it can be awful, intimidating, and all that.  But I dare say than anyone complaining on the “what it’s like” blog also needs to be complaining to your university ombudsman and the local police.  If you are too afraid to rock the boat for your own career, then you are, I fear, part of the problem.

[This post has been slightly edited in light of anon grad student’s comment below.]