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John Ireland and Constance Mui

There has rarely been a writer and thinker who saw his writing as more tied to his age than Jean-Paul Sartre. His notion of committed literature argued that writing and thought are anchored first and foremost in their “situation,” the period and context in which they are first produced, disseminated and discussed. One writes for one’s era, he maintained; that is when a piece of writing has its greatest impact. Almost forty years after his death, there is some irony in the fact that Sartre’s writings and thought continue to be invoked in so many different contexts far removed from their immediate cultural moment and situation. And this despite the legion of detractors on both sides of the Atlantic for whom the end of the Berlin wall and Soviet Russia sealed Sartre’s failed legacy and any possibility of his continued relevance.

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Constance L. Mui

To many Sartreans, these accounts of the common physical and psychological responses to trauma reflect a familiar view of the self. For Sartre, the self is not an unchanging, underlying essence that guarantees personal identity over time; rather, it is an ongoing project that is founded on our being-in-the-world as embodied freedom, on our concrete relations with others, and, I would add, on our emotions. It thus appears that feminist writings on the effects of sexual trauma could benefit greatly from a careful reading or rereading of Sartrean ontology, even though Sartre himself has not, to my knowledge, related any aspect of his philosophy specifically to the problem of trauma. With this in mind, this essay attempts to work out, within the broader Sartrean ontological framework, a preliminary outline of a phenomenology of rape trauma, one that is based on a feminist consideration of Sartre's distinct but intertwined theories of freedom, embodiment, and the emotions. In this endeavor, an important point I hope to bring out is that even though Sartre has at best provided a rough sketch for his theory of the emotions, we can nevertheless glean from that sketch valuable insights that can both inform and illuminate our understanding of the effects of trauma.

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Constance Mui, Kevin Gray, John Foran and David Ross Fryer

Thomas Martin, Oppression and the Human Condition: An Introduction to Sartrean Existentialism Review by Constance Mui

Ian H. Birchall, Sartre against Stalinism Review by Kevin Gray

Ronald Aronson, Camus and Sartre: The Story of a Friendship and the Quarrel that Ended It

David A. Sprintzen and Adrian van den Hoven, editors and translators, Sartre and Camus: A Historic Confrontation Reviews by John Foran

Nik Farrell Fox, The New Sartre: Explorations in Postmodernism Review by David Ross Fryer