Feminist reading groups

The past months many feminist book clubs and reading groups went online or were created to connect with each other through discussion of feminist topics. Here is an overview of English and Dutch feminist reading groups that will continue online the coming months. [MM]

Feminist online book clubs and reading groups

Feminist Society KU Leuven discussion group

Feminist Society KU Leuven organizes a discussion group every second and last Wednesday of the month. In January there is none due to the exams, but in February they will start again, online for the time being. The group functions as a platform to share and discuss feminist themes and the intersections with politics, society, culture, art and mental health. Each session one or two persons prepare the topic, provide the group with useful readings and videos to prepare themselves and moderate the discussion. Anyone can join in the discussion group, and also in the organization of Feminist Society (contact them on Facebook to be added to the Whatsapp group of FS).

They started working with fixed readings but changed their approach toward a theme or topic with several possible readings or videos. You don’t have to read or watch anything to join, rather the reading tips are provided for the ones who would like to know more and can find time for it.

In the first semester they worked with the following topics:

  • Introducing feminism with We should all be feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
  • Sara Ahmed’s Living A Feminist Life and her concept of the killjoy.
  • Does feminism has to be anti-capitalist? With readings of Emma Goldman and videos of Contrapoints.
  • A workshop on consent. (there will be a sequel of this one in the second semester)

The themes of the sessions in the second semester will be decided by the ones who propose to moderate a session on a certain topic, and the enthusiastic consent of the others in the group on their proposal.

Some of the ideas for sessions in the following months:

  • Ecofeminism
  • Bi/ pansexuality + stigma, prejudices and mental health
  • Asexuality + stigma, prejudices and mental health
  • Male gaze in literature and art
  • Sexual trauma (and psychological)
  • Consent (part II)
  • Non-monogamy
  • Kink and non-conventional sexual relationships
  • Substances (illegal and legal drugs)
  • ASD: autism, gender and society

UNDIVIDED book club

Also UNDIVIDED has a free, online, available to all book club. They organize these sessions as a manner to delve into texts and/or theories that do not get a part of the current Eurocentric and male-centred curriculum.

Last semester they read a few chapters of the book Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga. This is a classic in the African literary canon, a coming-of-age story that explores colonialism, cultural change, class gender and race.

If you want to know more about the planning of the second semester, keep an eye on the Facebook page of UNDIVIDED.

Feminist Philosophy Reading Group

This reading group is created by Tessa Vanbrabant and Bryony Martin to fulfil a need at the HIW (Hoger Instituut voor Wijsbegeerte) for alternative thinking. There is a course (Feminist Philosophy) that is teached every two years, but outside of that the curriculum is classic continental. As a consequence the Male Philosophers constitute the intellectual elite.

The reading group works in English (though if everyone speaks Dutch, they continue in Dutch) and is open for everyone: philosophers and non-philosophers, young and old, students and non-students, local or from another universe. They create a space where feminism is not dirty, but approachable to anyone.

Every month they work on a different theme. In October 2020 they worked on the ontology of womanhood through readings of Young, Friedan and Haslanger. Questions like ‘what is a woman, or womanhood, or feminism? Is feminism about women? What is the social construct around ‘woman’?’ guided the discussion. In November 2020 they continued on the topics of motherhood, birth and reproductive processes through readings of Beauvoir, Sidzinska and Oksala. In December they continued with Engels, Einspahr and Bhattarcharya to discuss the institutionalisation of repression and the structural reproduction of it.

At each session Tessa and Bryony provide an introduction and a synopsis. The participants work together to create an interesting and enriching dialogue. It’s a vivid and interactive reading group.

Through the energy of the group there is an extra platform now to discuss topics rather than readings, which in January is more suitable for students. The planning for the second semester is still open, but it will for sure continue.

Every Wednesday from 18 to 20 on Zoom. And when it’s possible again, live in Leuven.

If you would like to participate, send an email to tessa.vanbrabant@student.kuleuven.be or bryonysarah.martin@student.kuleuven.be and they will add you to the mailingslist (so you’ll get the zoomlink on mail).

Online feministische lees- en discussiegroepen

Intertekst

Met de boekclub ‘Intertekst’ bespreken we in het Nederlands elke maand interessante en prikkelende boeken of passages. We kiezen voor filosofisch-kritische teksten die verschillen in vorm (manifest, non-fictie, poëzie, roman,…) als in inhoud (feminisme, politiek, auto-theorie, wetenschapsfilosofie, postmodernisme,…).

Je hebt geen voorkennis nodig en we voorzien telkens een begeleidende introductie. Op het programma van dit jaar staat nog: “White Teeth” (21 januari), “The Dictator’s Handbook” (16 februari) en “Contingency, Irony & Solidarity” (25 maart).

Femina Libera

Het  feminisme vormt een verzamelterm voor verschillende golven, bewegingen  en interpretaties – maar wat verstaan wij, vandaag, onder feminisme?  Waar slaagt en faalt het feminisme? Hoe kunnen we feminisme verbeteren  en verbreden?

Femina Libera is  Latijn voor vrije vrouw, maar liber betekent ook boek in het Latijn. Revolutie door literatuur. Vrijheid met, door en voor boeken. Iedereen heeft baat bij het feminisme. Iedereen is welkom. Tijdens deze leesgroep verdiepen we ons in thema’s als  politiek en ideologie, beeldvorming en representatie, lichaamsbewustzijn  en seksualiteit, relaties en carrière. We bespreken zowel populaire fictie werken als canonieke theoretische werken.

Voorlopig werkt de leesgroep Femina Libera online. Iedereen kan deelnemen en voorkennis is  niet vereist. Als het terug mogelijk is, zal ze terug in De Groene Waterman in Antwerpen doorgaan.

Ons programma 2021:

13 januari:       Sister, Outsider – Audre Lorde (19.30-22u)
10 februari:     What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat – Aubrey Gordon (19.30-22u)
13 maart:         Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys (10.30-13u)
17 april:          The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson (10.30-13u)
12 mei:            De Jaren – Annie Ernaux (19.30-22u)
19 juni:           The Silence of the Girls – Pat Barker (10.30-13u)

We hebben de afgelopen jaren al heel veel verschillende dingen gelezen, van klassiekers zoals Orlando van Virginia Woolf en The Handmaid’s Tale van Margaret Atwood tot de poëzie van Rupi Kaur, Three Women van Lisa Taddeo en Het poppenhuis van Ibsen. We proberen telkens een boek (fictie of non-fictie) te lezen met een feministische bril op, het werk hoeft dus niet vooraf al de stempel “feministisch” meegekregen te hebben.

We hebben een facebookpagina, een instagrampagina @femina_libera en een maandelijkse nieuwsbrief. Op onze facebookpagina kan je in het fotoalbum “programma” al onze leeslijsten terugvinden.

UNDIVIDED for KU Leuven

UNDIVIDED is an intersectional student organisation in Leuven. We work on decolonization of academia, LGBTQ+ right and anti-ableism through research, policy, activism and community-building. Stay updated on our socials, participate in our events or reach out to us to join the team!

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