3/13 | Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex

Professors Judith Revel and Bernard E. Harcourt

read and discuss

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

at the EHESS, Campus Condorcet, Paris

October 16, 2019


We turn today – or as I have suggested in the earlier seminars, we “return” today – to a brilliant, transformative critical text from 1949: Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. And not just to a brilliant critical text, but as well, to two remarkable and equally insightful critical texts that engage Beauvoir’s book in precisely the manner that I was hoping to deploy, in the critical method.

We have been discussing, in the previous seminars, this idea of a critical method of reading, and I think that Judith Revel’s intervention is a perfect illustration of the critical method I have tried to identify: To return to a critical text, not to historicize it, or simply to place it in its historical context, but to identify critical moves, arguments, or articulations that we can then interrogate in the context of our present political struggles.

I believe that is what Judith Revel does so brilliantly in her intervention. It is also what I see reflected in Judith Butler’s article from 1986, “Gender in Simone de Beauvoir’s Second Sex.” I will bring that second text into conversation during my remarks.

Let’s go straight into the discussion. Welcome to Critique 3/13!