Reille Acks

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 2012


My project examines the feminism and existentialism of Simone de Beauvoir as they intersect with the ideas of the French social movements of the1960’s, using the movement of May '68 as a primary example. Beauvoir's ideas were politically in tune with the leftist philosophy of the students and workers who organized widespread demonstrations throughout the spring of 1968 and brought the French economy to a standstill in May of that year. But I argue that her existentialist philosophy, foregrounding the necessity of each individual to create a self and to reject accepted social paradigms, reflects the demands made by the students who wished to re-make the university and society. And, importantly, her conception of feminism – which grew from her existentialist ideas – explores the way in which the struggles of a singular person can represent those of an entire group, thus mirroring arguments of the Mouvement du 22 mars, with their emblematic phrase expressing their sense of oppression, "Nous sommes tous des juifs allemands" ("We are all German Jews."). The importance of the May '68 movement and its intersection with Beauvoir's ideas relative to feminism and philosophy point toward a greater understanding of the complexity of French identity.

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