Transgendering Nietzsche: Male Mothers and Phallic Women in Derrida’s "Spurs"

July 21, 2016

 Willow Verkerk

Thursday, July 21, 7:00PM–9:00PM, Room 7000, SFU Harbour Centre

In Spurs: Nietzsche’s Styles Derrida disrupts the coherence of ‘woman’ through exposing her as a fetish. ‘Woman’, whom Nietzsche describes as so artistic, as a great actor, is exemplary of a truth-making discourse about heteronormative cisgender sexuality. In Derrida’s reading of Nietzsche, the presumptions of essentialism that attach performative qualities to a biological sex are undermined through the exposures and conflations of many kinds of ‘woman’ who shun ‘truth’. These disruptions are complimented by Derrida’s attention to Nietzsche’s phallic rhetoric and his metaphors of pregnancy. Gender is displaced and put into a productive crisis in Spurs, but not without also reifying the feminine, through Nietzsche, as distance itself.  This paper brings Derrida's Nietzsche into confrontation with Nietzsche and new notions of gender in order to question how reading Nietzsche on 'woman' today has changed in light of recent theoretical developments in transgender studies.

Willow Verkerk is a Lecturer in Philosophy at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University, London (UK) and an Associate at the Institute for the Humanities at Simon Fraser University. She specializes in 19th and 20th century German and French Philosophy, Political Theory, and Feminist Philosophy. Her work has appeared in Journal of Nietzsche StudiesPhilosophy and LiteraturePhilosophy NowNietzsche's Therapeutic Teaching (Bloomsbury), and will appear in Reification and Spectacle: The Timeliness of Western Marxism (University of Amsterdam Press) and Symposium: Canadian Journal for Continental Philosophy.