Willful subjects.

By: Ahmed, Sara, 1969-.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: Durham, NC : Duke University Press, 2014Description: vii, 292 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.ISBN: 9780822357834.Subject(s): Philosophy and Psychology | Will-Social aspects | Will-Philosophy | WillDDC classification: 153.8AHM
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Book 153.8 AHM (Browse shelf) Checked out 01/05/2021 F16562
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

In Willful Subjects Sara Ahmed explores willfulness as a charge often made by some against others. One history of will is a history of attempts to eliminate willfulness from the will. Delving into philosophical and literary texts, Ahmed examines the relation between will and willfulness, ill will and good will, and the particular will and general will. Her reflections shed light on how will is embedded in a political and cultural landscape, how it is embodied, and how will and willfulness are socially mediated. Attentive to the wayward, the wandering, and the deviant, Ahmed considers how willfulness is taken up by those who have received its charge. Grounded in feminist, queer, and antiracist politics, her sui generis analysis of the willful subject, the figure who wills wrongly or wills too much, suggests that willfulness might be required to recover from the attempt at its elimination.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • Acknowledgments (p. vii)
  • Introduction: A Willfulness Archive (p. 1)
  • 1 Willing Subjects (p. 23)
  • 2 The Goodwill (p. 59)
  • 3 The General Will (p. 97)
  • 4 Willfulness as a Style of Politics (p. 133)
  • Conclusion: A Call to Arms (p. 173)
  • Notes (p. 205)
  • References (p. 257)
  • Index (p. 277)

Reviews provided by Syndetics


Ahmed (race and cultural studies, Univ. of London, UK) has produced an erudite archive of willfulness, tracing the ideas of the will and willfulness through Western thought since Augustine. Admonitory fairy tales and George Eliot's novels serve as articulations of philosophy. Ahmed engages in a queer reading of willfulness, a reading that does not presume that willfulness is negative. In the first chapter, she describes the enactment of the will as presuming a horizon and direction. In the second chapter, Ahmed offers a close reading of the willful child and the trope's entanglement in education and philosophy; she also describes Victorian ideas about "diseases of the will." Here, the will becomes a project of the self. In the third chapter, she analyzes the extension of the "techniques" of "good" will to their embodiment in the projects of the general will, the production of a coherent social body of a nation. In the final chapter, the author takes up the problem and potential of willfulness as a form of politics that is more than resistance because of its future orientation. A masterful, complex book for feminist studies and critical social theory. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty. --Jennifer L. Croissant, University of Arizona