Research

See also https://www.mun.ca/hss/research/researcher_of_the_month/2019/01_2019_shannon_hoff.php

CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECT

My current research project, supported by a SSHRC Insight Grant, is to analyze the practical problems that continue to make feminist analysis necessary and the theoretical issues it still needs to address, using the resources of the philosophical tradition. The project is based on a vision of a partnership between feminism and philosophy: on the idea that feminist insight is useful for philosophy and that powerful insights of the philosophical tradition—mostly from Plato, Hegel, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Marx, and Merleau-Ponty—could be utilized for rather than against feminist purposes. I will employ these insights to reflect on the challenges that continue to face gendered beings as gendered, and to discuss the theoretical issues that continue to face feminist analysis of these challenges. Conversely, I will use discussions of sexist oppression to help illuminate specific philosophical ideas.

I begin phenomenologically, with an account of how ordinary adult experience unfolds for us as embodied beings in the world with others. Here I address the basic issues of personal life that coincide with issues of feminist concern: the significance of appearance, the experience of sexual interaction, and the experience of not being counted or noticed because of aging or gender “transgression.” Part Two is recuperative, analyzing what has shaped our everyday experience: formative, interpersonal situations with their gendered expectations regarding behaviour. The third part analyzes the impersonal domains that situate our development even as they stand “behind the scenes”: a) the operation of nature; b) basic social and political arrangements; and c) the need for sustenance that compels economic activity. Finally, the fourth part addresses our experience beyond these familiar environments, whether it is experience of other people or of meanings that exceed the familiar; here I will grapple with feminism’s relation to other political movements and with access to activities defined essentially by freedom—art, religion, and philosophy.

BOOKS

The Laws of the Spirit: A Hegelian Theory of Justice (Albany: SUNY Press, 2014)

The Laws of the Spirit argues that for a society to be just it must answer to three priorities: the essentiality of formative cultural contexts that Hegel identifies under the name of “ethical life”; the priority of individual self-determination reflected in liberal conceptions of positive law; and the ways in which we find ourselves singularly answerable to moral and spiritual meanings that are irreducible to our contexts of cultivation and our existent legal structures, or "conscience." The first section draws on a variety of Hegel’s texts to articulate this fundamental framework; the second uses these principles to interpret Hegel’s analyses of particular political issues; and the third studies how these principles are relevant to central concerns of contemporary political philosophy.

ARTICLES

"Locke and the Nature of Political Authority," The Review of Politics 77, no. 1 (Winter 2015): 1-22. This paper discusses Locke’s pivotal account of political authority and consent, showing its implicit commitment to cultivating the social conditions that enable individual agency.

"Translating Principle into Practice: On Derrida and the Terms of Feminism," Journal of Speculative Philosophy SPEP Supplement 29, no. 3 (2015): 403-414. Using the tension between the unconditional and conditional in Derrida, specifically in his analysis of hospitality, I argue that the very concept of “woman” definitive for feminism must itself be open to challenge within feminism, discussing specifically its relation to trans issues and to the issue of reproductive freedom.

"Rights and Worlds: On the Political Significance of Belonging," Philosophical Forum 45, no. 4 (2014): 355-373. Heidegger’s notion of “world” is used here to show that commitments to individual rights require accompanying commitments to the worlds of significance upon which individuals rely for the development of meaningful lives.

"Inheriting Identity and Practicing Transformation: The Time of Feminist Politics," philoSOPHIA 2, no. 2 (2013): 167-193. Here I discuss the history of feminist theory, arguing that its internal diversity is essential to it and should be affirmed by feminist practitioners: it must answer to liberal ideals, but also to the elements of human experience by which they are constrained: the significance of human interdependency and care, and the importance of holding identities open to creative re-enactment.

"The Colonization of Significance and the Future of the Nation: Fanon, Derrida, and Democracy-to-Come," PhaenEx 8, no. 1 (2013): 59-90. With Fanon and Derrida, this paper defends a specific kind of nationalism in the face of the oppressive employment of Western "universalism" in the context of colonization.

"On Law, Transgression, and Forgiveness: Hegel and the Politics of Liberalism," Philosophical Forum XLII, no. 2 (Summer 2011): 187-210.

"Law, Love, and Life: Forgiveness and the Transformation of Politics," Philosophy Today SPEP Supplement 54 (2010): 153-62.

"Wendy Brown and the Critique of Tolerance," Radical Philosophy Review 11, no. 1 (2008): 35-50.

"Restoring Antigone to Ethical Life: Nature and Sexual Difference in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit," The Owl of Minerva 38 (2007): 77-99.

"Confession, Forgiveness, Solidarity: Hegel's Theory of Law in the Phenomenology of Spirit," Philosophy Today SPEP Supplement 50 (2006): 31-38.

"Introduction: Witnessing," Studies in Practical Philosophy 3, no. 2 (2003): 1-9.

CHAPTERS IN BOOKS

"A View from an Apartment: Hegel on Home and Homelessness in Romantic Art," in Hegel and Art, ed. Stefan Bird-Pollan and Vladimir Marchenkov (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2019). This paper discusses Hegel's analysis of romantic art and its illumination of the distinction between objective and absolute spirit, showing how inhabitation of both "objective" and "absolute" domains shapes the character of human existence.

"Hegel on Tragedy and the Character of Freedom," Festschrift in honour of Lambert Zuidervaart, ed. Michael DeMoor, Peter Enneson, and Matt Klaassen (Wipf and Stock, forthcoming 2019). This paper uses Hegel’s analyses of ancient and modern tragedy to illuminate the importance of developing an account of the freedom of social participation in addition to individual freedom.

"The Right and the Righteous: Hegel on Confession, Forgiveness, and the Necessary Imperfection of Political Action," in Phenomenology and Forgiveness, ed. Marguerite La Caze (Rowman and Littlefield, 2019). With the help of Hegel's discussion of forgiveness, I argue here for an approach to political action that embraces its necessary specificity and political judgement that affirms this, choosing solidarity over righteousness.

"Hegel and the Possibility of Intercultural Criticism," in Hegel and Canada: Unity of Opposites?, ed. Neil G. Robertson and Susan M. Dodd (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018), pp. 342-367. In discussion of feminism's historically charged approach to the religious and cultural practices of Muslim women, this paper argues for the necessity of recognizing both the cultural specificity that colours all of our systems of meaning ("ethical life") and the imperative that that specificity be itself answerable to the demand for intercultural communication ("conscience").

"Pain and Agency: A Critique of Liberal Political Ontology," in The Self in Pain: Essays in Cultural Ontology, ed. by Siby K. George (Heidelberg: Springer, 2016), pp. 211-223.

"Politics in Public: The History of Identity and the Aspiration to Universality," in Public Sphere from Outside the West, ed. V. Sanil and Divya Dwivedi (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), pp. 259-274.

"Artificial Respiration: On Life, Environment, and Machine," in Wood: A Compendium of the Blackwood Gallery's Exhibitions and Projects in 2009 (Toronto: C. J. Graphics, 2011).

BOOK REVIEWS

Rebecca Comay and Frank Ruda, The Dash—The Other Side of Absolute Knowing (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2018), in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (2019). https://ndpr.nd.edu/news/the-dash-the-other-side-of-absolute-knowing/

Mary Rawlinson, Just Life: Bioethics and the Future of Sexual Difference (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016), in Symposium (2018). https://www.c-scp.org/2018/07/22/mary-rawlinson-just-life-bioethics-and-the-future-of-sexual-difference

RESEARCH GRANTS

2019-2024: SSHRC Insight Grant ($124,664), "Being Gendered: On Women, Feminism, and Philosophy"

November 2017-April 2019: SSHRC/VP Research Grant ($6,988.36), "Feminism and Philosophy"

2015-2018: Start-Up Grant ($14,553.90), Memorial University of Newfoundland

October 2002-June 2004: Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) Scholarship (€15,000), Universität zu Köln

Contact

Shannon Hoff

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000