Show Less
Restricted access

Partial Visions

Feminism and Utopianism in the 1970s


Angelika Bammer

What would a good world for women look like? How would we get there from where we are and how would we have to change ourselves in the process? This book examines a critical moment in recent American and western European history when the utopian dimension of political movements was particularly generative and feminism was at their core. The imaginative literature that emerged out of American, French, and German feminisms of the 1970s engaged the dialectic between the actual and the possible in radically new and creative ways. Ranging from conventional utopian and science fictions to avant-garde and experimental texts, they countered the idea of utopia as a pre-set goal with the idea of the utopian as a process of «dreaming forwards.»
This book explores the transformative potential of feminist visions of change, even as it sees their ideological blind spots. It does more than simply look back to the 1970s. Instead, it looks ahead, anticipating some of the shifts and changes of feminist thought in the following decades: its transnational scope, its critique of identity politics and the gendered politics of sexuality, and its embrace of affect as an analytical category. The author argues that the radical utopianism of second wave feminisms has not lost its urgency. The transformations they envisioned are still our challenge, as the vital work of social change remains undone.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Introduction to the Classics Edition


“The Unfinished The Unbegun The Possible”1: Partial Visions, A Generation Later

Think about the 1970s and you might draw a blank. The 1960s – that’s when things were happening. But the seventies …? That’s when “I’m OK, you’re OK” replaced the struggle for social justice, and traditional values, including established gender roles,2 returned. It was the “Me Decade,” as the literary journalist Tom Wolfe defined it (Wolfe 1976),3 a time of mood rings and smiley faces, the period that pivoted the activist sixties, when a vocal minority wanted to change the world, to the conservative eighties, when a silent majority wanted to keep the world the way it was. When I asked a historian friend, “What did the 1970s stand for, what of significance did this decade bring,” he thought about it for a moment, puzzled. “Kind of a lost decade,” he finally shrugged.

This book tells a different story about the 1970s: a story, not of loss, but discovery, of wild dreams and bold visions for change. It is a story of voices, histories and memories that had seemed lost, but were retrieved and charged with new energies. It is a story of women who traveled through time and space, across centuries and cultures; women who could fly, and change shape and speak the language of plants and animals; women who built cities and created worlds designed for women; who shaped language and measured time to the rhythm of women’s bodies. It...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.