Women, Nature, and Society: Response to “Back to Nature”

This recording opens by replaying Werner Dannhauser’s commentary on Soundings on (“Back to Nature,” February 20, 1983, Episode #125), in which he stated his views on the women’s movement, feminism, and social values. A response to Dannhauser follows [4:40] from Leila Ahmed, Margreta de Grazia, Patricia Meyer Spacks, and Martha Woodmansee, who describe Dannhauser’s stated views as “authoritarian and patriarchal.” They question his choice of a “commentary” style when speaking to Soundings and state that their response will be in the form of a discussion. They question the correctness of Dannhauser’s use of various terms and language, such as “nature,” “feminism,” and “sex,” and they define and clarify those terms in their own responses. They disagree with Dannhauser’s notion of a natural, historical, and cross-cultural sexual norm between men and women, as well as with his generalizations about feminists.

At the time of these recordings, all of the speakers had been Fellows at the National Humanities Center in 1982-83. Dannhauser, a Fellow at the Center (1981-82), was professor of government at Cornell University. Ahmed was professor of English at the University of Massachusetts. De Grazia was professor of English at Georgetown University. Spacks, a Fellow at the Center (1988-89) and a trustee of the Center, was professor of English at Yale University. Woodmansee was professor of German and English at Northwestern University.

This edition of Soundings was conducted by Wayne J. Pond.

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