Rattlesnake Hunting, Territoriality, and a Prodigal Daughter: Journeys Into Discursive Formations

Dissertation, State University of New York at Binghamton (2000)
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Abstract

The collection of writings found in this dissertation traces a journey around different worlds of discursive production, exploring questions of culture, tradition, history, authority, origin, identity, form, meaning, and politics. In Part One of this journey I explore the question of why Diotima, in Plato's Symposium, has been constructed as the only fictional character in all of Plato's dialogues. Drawing insights from Afro-centric historical projects and feminist reinvestigations into the past as they relate to the discourse surrounding Plato's Symposium, in general, and the status of the character of Diotima, in particular, I examine the discursive rationales constructed for considering Diotima a fictional character. "The Politics of Origins and The History of Philosophy: Afro-centric and Female-centric Orientations," explores two leading figures, George G. M. James and Jane Ellen Harrison, in relation to the intellectual contexts within which and against which they negotiated their work and developed their non-traditional origin theses. "Female Hands," gives further historical, discussion and interrogates the discursive rationales given for considering Diotima a fictional character. The running theme of what counts as philosophy and who counts as a philosopher is central to the elaborations in the third writing, "Diotima's Challenge to Western Philosophy," where I attempt to wrest open the question of philosophy so as to provide the space necessary for reflection. It is this space for reflection, this space in between, the site of the imaginative capacity of perception to comprehend the multidimensional and infinite possibilities of embodied transformation, which leads into the series of writings in Part Two. Thus, "Rattlesnake Hunting, Territoriality, and a Prodigal Daughter," "It's About Time," "For Crying Out Loud ," and "A Blue River," explore differing experiments of locating ways and ideas in a series of connected but sometimes dissonant voices in approaching a response to colonialist preoccupations with fitting one's self into the dominant narratives, discourses and forms of identity, politics, and conceptual order to make sense of one's experiences and life. Travelling through various landscapes, histories, memories, and meanings, questions arise as to the definite circumscriptions not only of territoriality and gender, but the logos of "proper places."

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