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June 2012: Naomi Scheman

posted Jun 2, 2012, 10:08 AM by APA Status-of-Women   [ updated Jun 2, 2012, 10:15 AM ]
Naomi Scheman
University of Minnesota

Naomi Scheman is a professor of Philosophy and of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota. She received her BA from Barnard College and her PhD from Harvard, and before going to Minnesota in 1979 taught at the University of Ottawa. She is currently also a guest researcher at the Centre for Gender Studies at the University of Umeå in Sweden, where she will receive an honorary doctorate in October 2012. She is affiliated with Minnesota's Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change and will be participating in an exchange with the University of the Western Cape.

Scheman was one of the first to bring a feminist perspective to the reading of Wittgenstein and a Wittgensteinian perspective to feminist theory. With Peg O'Connor, she co-edited the Feminist Interpretations of Wittgenstein volume in Nancy Tuana's Re-Reading the Canon series (Penn State Press, 2002). The central themes of her work have been the moral and political implications of taking seriously the ways in which human practices shape the world (ontology) and our knowledge of it (epistemology). Thus, for example, she has argued since the 1970's against physicalism and for an understanding of mental phenomena as socially constructed and hence for our responsibility for the (un)intelligibility of each other's lives. She is especially interested in the ways in which marginalized and transgressive practices both illuminate what "we" (the more normatively intelligible) do and also create the possibility of acting, and meaning, differently.

These themes have emerged in work covering a wide range of topics--from Shakespeare to Wittgenstein, from Jewish and transsexual identities to community-based participatory research--and appearing in a wide range of journals and edited collections. Her essays have been republished in two volumes: Engenderings: Constructions of Knowledge, Authority, and Privilege (Routledge, 1993) and Shifting Ground: Knowledge and Reality, Transgression and Trustworthiness (Oxford, 2011). She currently holds the University of Minnesota Imagine Chair in Arts, Design, and Humanities and will be exploring alternative, place-based visions for public research universities, with a focus on epistemologies and ontologies of relationship, narrative, trustworthiness, and respectful engagement.