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Silvia Federici: Women, Capitalism, and the Body is unfortunately unavailable

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Silvia Federici: Women, Capitalism, and the Body

Uncover the history of witch-hunts and capitalism in this course. Explore how the persecution of women during the transition to capitalism created a docile feminized subject fit for domestic work and wage labor. Delve into Silvia Federici's groundbreaking work, Caliban and the Witch, and examine the impact of capitalism on gender, race, and state control over reproductive labor.

  • All levels
  • 21 and older
  • $335
  • Online Classroom
  • 12 hours over 4 sessions

Start Dates (0)

  • $335
  • 12 hours over 4 sessions
  • Class will not meet Sunday, March 24th.
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Class Description


What you'll learn in this literature class:

The infamous witch-hunts of the 16th and 17th centuries were, as Silvia Federici puts it, “one of the most monstrous attacks on the body perpetrated in the modern era.” Persecuted as witches, and murdered in the tens of thousands, were heretics, healers, slaves, disobedient wives, and women who dared to live alone. For Federici, the Marxist-feminist theorist perhaps best known for co-authoring the manifesto “Wages for Housework,” the witch-hunting of the early modern period, commonly seen as a spontaneous outbreak of superstitious hysteria, was in fact a brutal, deliberate attempt to create a docile feminized subject—one fit for domestic work and the social reproduction of wage labor. What is the legacy of the witch-hunt, and what does it teach us about the nature of capitalism, its social reproduction, and its connection to persisting misogyny and exploitation?

In this course, we’ll read closely the entirety of Federici’s Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation—exploring, as we go, the history of the body during the transition to capitalism. How was the human body re-conceived at the onset of capitalism, particularly in terms of gender and race?  In what ways was capitalism a kind of counterrevolutionary response to anti-feudal popular struggle? How did the weakened social power of women (accomplished through the witch hunts and colonialism) undermine peasant solidarity and increase state control over reproductive labor? What are the links between the witch hunts in Europe to witch trials in the (colonial) Americas? Caliban and the Witch will be the primary text for the course, but supplemental readings by Karl Marx, Angela Davis, Mariarosa Dalla Costa, Selma James, and others will be included as well.

Remote Learning

This course is available for "remote" learning and will be available to anyone with access to an internet device with a microphone (this includes most models of computers, tablets). Classes will take place with a "Live" instructor at the date/times listed below.

Upon registration, the instructor will send along additional information about how to log-on and participate in the class.

Refund Policy

  • Upon request, we will refund less 5% cancellation fee of a course up until 6 business days before its start date.
  • Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to 75% refund or full course credit.
  • After the first class: 50% refund or 75% course credit.
  • No refunds or credits will be given after the second class.

In any event where a customer wants to cancel their enrollment and is eligible for a full refund, a 5% processing fee will be deducted from the refund amount.

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Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

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