Cover: A Feminist Theory of Refusal, from Harvard University PressCover: A Feminist Theory of Refusal in HARDCOVER

A Feminist Theory of Refusal

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Product Details


$29.95 • £23.95 • €27.00

ISBN 9780674248496

Publication Date: 05/11/2021

Academic Trade

208 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

14 photos

The Mary Flexner Lectures of Bryn Mawr College


A new and deeply compelling interpretation of Euripides’s Bacchae… Honig’s argument is brilliantly counterintuitive… She rereads the Bacchae to celebrate the women’s freedom and joy.—Karen Bassi, Political Theory

Give her glory! In her reading of and with the Bacchae, Bonnie Honig takes us through the text into critical theory, theater, and the agonistic political. Her sisterly feminism makes women fiercer, more violent, more political, more closely and willfully bound to one another, full of food and pleasure and joy in rebellion. In the arc of refusal that Honig makes visible, sexualities become iridescent acts of will, maternalism falls before an egalitarian sisterhood, and an ancient text opens to new forms of political struggle.—Anne Norton, author of 95 Theses on Politics, Culture, and Method

With a questing mind and an eye for the revealing detail, Honig finds unexpected meanings in Euripides’s Bacchae, showing how the play expands and renews feminist concepts of resistance. In their repeated refusals, sororal mutuality, and storytelling, the wild women who desert Thebes for the forest give us valuable hints about how power is sustained and how it may be opposed. For Honig, reading itself becomes a bold collaboration, an opportunity to place thinkers in surprising company and learn from the experiment.—Joy Connolly, President, American Council of Learned Societies

A profoundly relevant study of the three graces of refusal—inclination, inoperativity, and fabulation—and how, interwoven, they work to deepen its far-reaching agency. Honig encourages us all to stake a claim in the retelling of our histories, to push our narratives beyond the maddening limitations of patriarchal normativity. This is our civic and political duty, whether we succeed or fail. As Honig says, ‘we are in it together.’—Lisa Dwan, actor, writer, director, and star of Pale Sister

In Bonnie Honig’s stunning reinterpretation of the Bacchae, the concept of refusal—not an end in itself, but a necessary first step toward liberation and transformation—grounds an audacious and utterly persuasive feminist politics. Along the way, readers are treated to surprising and reciprocally illuminating pairings: Saidiya Hartman and Hannah Arendt, Greek tragedy and Black fabulation, Bartleby the Scrivener and Charlie Chaplin. This book blazes like a comet with intellectual sparks in its wake.—Vaughn Rasberry, author of Race and the Totalitarian Century: Geopolitics in the Black Literary Imagination

Exhilarating. With her vital reading of the Bacchae, Honig develops a fierce feminist politics that sees refusal not as passivity but as a violent transformative love.—Catherine Conybeare, author of The Laughter of Sarah: Biblical Exegesis, Feminist Theory, and the Concept of Delight

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