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Feminism as Epic Theory

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 May 2021

Kate M. Phelan*
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Australia


Sheldon Wolin identifies a particular tradition within political theory that he calls ‘epic theory’. Epic theory, he explains, is political theory's equivalent of the Kuhnian scientific revolution. This article takes up the analogy between epic theory and scientific revolution to show that feminism is an epic theory in the truest sense of the term, a sense not fully grasped by Wolin. It is so for two reasons. First, it is a theory of the whole. Second, it is less a discovery than an invention of the world. The author seeks to account for the existence of feminism in the face of its impossibility, and to demonstrate the magnitude of the achievement that feminism represents.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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