Refiguring the Ordinary

Refiguring the Ordinary

Gail Weiss
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 07/02/2008
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-21989-3
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If social, political, and material transformation is to have a lasting impact on individuals and society, it must be integrated within ordinary experience. Refiguring the Ordinary examines the ways in which individuals' bodies, habits, environments, and abilities function as horizons that underpin their understandings of the ordinary. These features of experience, according to Gail Weiss, are never neutral, but are always affected by gender, race, social class, ethnicity, nationality, and perceptions of bodily normality. While no two people will experience the ordinary in exactly the same way, the multiplicities, possibilities, overlaps, and limitations of day-to-day horizons are always intersubjectively constituted. Weiss turns her attention to changing the conditions and experiences of oppression from ordinary to extraordinary. This book is an impressive phenomenological, feminist reading of the complexities of human experience.M. V. Marder, University of Toronto, Feb. 2009

Author Bio

Gail Weiss is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Human Sciences graduate program at The George Washington University. She is author of Body Images: Embodiment as Intercorporeality and co-editor of Feminist Interpretations of Merleau-Ponty.


“If social, political, and material transformation is to have a lasting impact on individuals and society, it must be integrated within ordinary experience. Refiguring the Ordinary examines the ways in which horizons of personal experience—our bodies, habits, environments, and abilities—underpin the ordinary.”

“[Readers] interested in phenomenology, Merleau-Ponty, and issues of embodiment in general, as well as feminist philosophy, would be interested in this book. It is written clearly and free of jargon.”
 — Thomas Busch, Villanova University

“Articulate, readable, well-researched, and original . . . one of the best feminist readings and elaborations of phenomenological philosophy thus far published.”
 — Elizabeth Grosz, Rutgers University

“Weiss (George Washington Univ.) insightfully bridges phenomenology and critical theory in a way that leads to a mutual enrichment of the two fields. Her study renders hallmark phenomenological terms, such as "horizon" and "world," more concrete by insisting on the need to supplement their spatial and temporal aspects with the social and political determinations of the most ordinary human behavior, including perception and habituation. . . . Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers.February 2009”
 — Choice

“While a philosophy book that will surely end up in university courses, Weiss’s pronouncements about the self, the other, and how we construct reality will no doubt contribute to feminist philosophical theory in a greater way. When taken with healthy doses of history as a foundation to understanding her work, Weiss’s explanation and subsequent reshaping of the ordinary becomes quite digestible and even a bit delicious. . . . [R]ecommended for any combination of curious philosopher, cross-disciplinary psychologist, radical feminist, and communication theorist among us.November 6, 2008”
 — Brittany Shoot, Feminist Review

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Table of Contents



Part 1. Figuring the Ground
1. Context and Perspective
2. Ambiguity, Absurdity, and Reversibility: Three Responses to Indeterminacy

Part 2. Narrative Horizons
3. Reading/Writing between the Lines
4. The Body as a Narrative Horizon

Part 3. (Re)Grounding the Figure
5. Can an Old Dog Learn New Tricks? Habitual Horizons in James, Bourdieu, and Merleau-Ponty
6. Imagining the Horizon

Part 4. Urban Perspectives
7. City Limits
8. Urban Flesh

Part 5. Constraining Horizons
9. Death and the Other: Rethinking Authenticity
10. Challenging Choices
11. Mothers/Intellectuals: Alterities of a Dual Identity