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Reclaiming the Secret of Love

Feminism, Imagination and Sexual Difference

Katherine Zappone and Anne Louise Gilligan

This book presents a bold hypothesis: the social transformation at the heart of feminist theory will be concretised only when women, and men, use their imaginations to empower new ways of being in and understanding our world. Feminist theory and the history of the philosophy of the imagination are used as resources to outline how the practice of «sexual difference» as an ontological vocation, and its application to religious language, can be a call to live love and mutual relations in a new way. Poetry, art, cultural and literary works are key resources too.

Gilligan invites the reader to apply this theory, history and art to their own unfolding gender identities through an imagination no longer hindered by patriarchal characteristics and restrictions. She offers a special focus on the becoming of female subjectivity. She knew that if people, especially, though not only, women, image the possible for themselves and our world, through doing the hard work of becoming subject, not object of any other, such agency would necessarily change even the most intransigent social, economic and cultural problems to shift violence towards peace, lies towards truth, poverty and inequality towards the flourishing of every one. She bore witness to this in her own life, with others.

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Extract from A Grafted Tongue by John Montague from New Collected Poems (2012) reproduced by kind permission of the author’s Estate and The Gallery Press.

Permission to quote from Misogynist by Michael Harding from The Crack in the Emerald: New Irish Plays (London: Nick Hern Books, 1990) by kind permission of the publisher.

Permission to quote from We Are Damned, My Sisters by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, from Selected Poems. Translated by Michael Hartnett (Dublin: Raven Arts Press, 1988) by kind permission of the publisher.

Excerpt from “Letter to the Front” © Muriel Rukeyser from The Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser, 2005, University of Pittsburgh Press, by kind permission of William L. Rukeyser, in personal correspondence with Katherine Zappone.

Permission to quote from The Art of Grief by Eavan Boland from A Time of Violence, (Manchester UK: Carcanet Press, 1994) by kind permission of the publisher and by Norton Publishing.

Permission to quote from Home by Paula Meehan, from As If By Magic: Selected Poems (Dublin: Dedalus Press, 2020), by kind permission of the publisher.

Permission to quote Plays 1 by Brian Friel (London: Faber and Faber, 1996) by kind permission of the publisher.

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Permission to quote from The Settle Bed by Seamus Heaney, from Seeing Things (London: Faber and Faber, 1991) by kind permission of the publisher and the family of Seamus Heaney.

Permission to quote from The Canton...

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