Shimer College

March 30, 2011

Hello from Oxford

Jonathan Timm writes from Oxford, where he is finishing both his thesis and his last semester at Shimer.

My thesis, convoluted and broad as it is, has shaped up nicely, and I hope to defend it before graduating in May.

When you break it down, the thesis argues that theory on political oppressions should utilize non-normative thinking and be, rather than overly abstract, grounded in particular contexts. In my view, the best theory is that which engages in particulars and, in so doing, uncovers potential areas of change. Theory that is contextually grounded breaks down the problematic binaries that follow from normative thinking, as well as the separation between theorists and non-academics.

My argument references, utilizes, and/or critiques the work of ‘canonical’ thinkers such as Rene Descartes, John Locke, Simone de Beauvoir, and Jean-Paul Sartre. But because I am most interested in post-structuralism, feminism, and contemporary political struggles, I focus on the work of Michel Foucault, Carole Pateman, Jane Flax, Barbara Hernstein Smith, Cornel West, Chandra Mohanty, Joy James, and Angela Davis.

But instead of boring you with all of that (and continuing to name-drop rather than actually explain my thesis), I will share some pretty pictures with you.