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Public PhD Defense: Emily Hertz - Process Philosophy and Feminist New Materialism: Time, Affect, and Aesthetics

Wednesday, May 26, 2021, 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Defense Committee

Chair: Alexios Antypas, Department Environmental Science and Policy, CEU

Supervisor: Eszter Timar, Department of Gender Studies, CEU                             

External examiner: Michael Halewood, Department of Sociology, University of Essex, UK

Internal examiner: Hyaesin Yoon, Department of Gender Studies, CEU

Reader: Steven Shaviro, Department of English, Wayne State University, US


This project brings feminist new materialism into a closer conversation with process philosophy through the philosophical works of Alfred North Whitehead. New materialism already depends upon theoretical components that can be read as deeply process-influenced. The commitments in new materialism to rethink stubborn dualisms (human/animal, subject/object, mind/body) resonate with the basic tenets of process philosophy. Despite these similar goals and concepts, new materialism tends to engage first and foremost with continental philosophy. By drawing deeper comparisons between new materialism and process philosophy, I will highlight the benefits of a process approach and investigate further pathways for collaboration between the two trends of thought. I focus on three keys themes I see as central to both new materialism and process thought: time, affect, and aesthetics. I read these themes, respectively, through three foundational texts to feminist new materialism, Karen Barad’s Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (2007), Brian Massumi’s Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation (2002), and Jane Bennett’s The Enchantment of Modern Life: Attachments, Crossings, and Ethics (2001) and Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (2010).