Evelyn Fox Keller: Historical,
Psychological and Philosophical Intersections
in the Study of Gender and Science
If there is a single point on which
all feminist scholarship over the past decade [the 1980s] has
converged, it is the importance of recognizing the social construction
of gender, and the deeply oppressive consequences of assuming
that men and women are, in Simone de Beauvoir's words, "born
rather than made." All of my work on gender and science
proceeds from this basic recognition. My endeavor has been to
call attention to the ways in which the social construction of
a binary opposition between "masculine" and "feminine"
has influenced the social construction of science. I argue that
it is only by recognizing the social character of the construction
of both gender and science that we can realize the emancipatory
value--for men, for women, and for science--of transcending that
opposition. The first step, of course, is to abandon the myth
that the opposition between "masculine" and "feminine"
is somehow "natural," and therefore fixed. (Evelyn
Fox Keller. "Evelyn Fox Keller Objects to Editor's Title."
The Scientist. 7 January 1991) () http://www.the-scientist.library.upenn.edu/yr1991/jan/let2_910107.html
Evelyn Fox Keller has devoted the past
twenty years of her life to the study of the manner in which
gender and science are related. Using psychoanalysis, she delves
into the construction of such terms as man, woman, science, nature,
gender and sex. Her work has helped to open the floodgates to
a critique of the scientific process and has questioned our fundamental
understanding of science within Western culture and civilization.
This paper will focus on Keller's life and her work on the issue
of women in science, culminating with her ground-breaking book,
Reflections on Gender and Science, and moving beyond
this work to comment on where her further research may lead.
In an interview with Keller in the summer
of 1992, Beth Horning gleaned the following biographical material.
Keller was born in 1936 to "poor, hard-working Russian Jewish
immigrant parents who never went to high school" (61). Her
early education was in the New York public school system, and
she had no idea what she wanted to do with her life until she
decided to become a psychoanalyst at the age of eleven. Keller
was enthralled by the idea of the unconscious, which her older
sister had explained to her on a visit home from college. When
she graduated from high school, Keller was still set on this
career goal, although her older brother, Maury, was trying desperately
to persuade her to enter science, loaning her books by the likes
of Asimov and Gamow. During her first year at Queens College,
Keller was picked out by her calculus teacher who suggested that
she major in physics. Ironically, her first real interest in
the sciences came in composition class which she was trying desperately
to pass. At the end of her rope, she latched onto the dusty Gamow
books that her brother had loaned her. "In them a mild-mannered
bank clerk by the name of Mr. Tompkins was forever going to lectures
on science, falling asleep within minutes, and having educational
dreams about, for example, the 'tribe of gay electrons'"
(Horning 62). Using Mr. Tompkins example, Keller was able to
harness her creative energy and write about topics that she enjoyed--questions
of science--and so passed the class.
At the end of the first year, Keller
had planned to transfer to a college further from home, preferable
Antioch in Ohio or Reed in Oregon, even though her conservation
parents wanted her to stay near home. Unfortunately, Keller discovered
that the cost of transferring was simply more than she or her
family could afford. As she comments in her interview with Horning,
"That was a big blow. I felt that I had shot myself in the
foot. It was infuriating" (62). Keller had just about decided
to try to make it on her own without the support of her parents
when her brother intervened and suggested Brandeis University.
The school was closer to home than Antioch or Reed, yet far enough
away for Keller to get out of the house. She could get a scholarship,
and "it was a Jewish school, which made her parents much
less nervous" (Horning 62-63). Her brother was friends with
Leo Szilard, who was connected to Brandeis, So, off she went
to Brandeis where she majored in physics. She claims she chose
this field because she was good at it and enjoyed breaking the
stereotype that girls were generally not proficient in the sciences:
"Her actual interest in the subject, she figured, was just
strong enough to get her through college and into medical school,
where her psychoanalytical training would begin" (Horning
In her senior year, however, Keller
began work on a thesis devoted to the study of physicist Richard
Feynman and became enthralled with theoretical physics. She won
a scholarship from the National Science Foundation in 1957 and
enrolled in graduate school at Harvard where she was expected
to do well. Harvard was quite a change after the acceptance that
she had received at Brandeis. As a woman scientist in the area
of theoretical physics, she was known on campus as an anomaly
and was frequently the butt of professorial jokes. She was often
accused of plagiarism--"Didn't she know that no woman at
Harvard had ever succeeded in becoming a theoretical physicist?"
(Harding 64) After two years in the program, Keller was completely
miserable. She finished her oral exams but decided not to write
a thesis. She left for a vacation with her brother and his family
at Cold Springs Harbor with "a suitcase full of Freud,"
fully expecting to leave the field and return to her original
dream of psychoanalysis (Harding 64).
Cold Springs Harbor, however, was the
home of the Long Island Biological Laboratories, and her brother
soon had her mingling with some of the most brilliant biologists
in the world. Here, Keller found an attitude far different from
what she had encountered at Harvard; she was accepted and valued
for her contributions. Within several weeks she had decided to
conduct an experiment in molecular biology to serve as the crux
of her dissertation. Returning to Harvard, she found a thesis
adviser and got to work. By 1963, she had finished the degree
and was teaching night school at New York University. She met
and married mathematician Joseph Bishop Keller and had two children
within two years.
At this point in her life, Keller finally
began to learn something about psychoanalysis, although her position
was not as a student but as a patient. In her sessions, Keller
began to understand the discourse around which she had built
her life, and the conflict that seemed to be inherent in her
desire to be a woman and a scientist. The emerging feminist movement
peaked her interest in her own unique position, and in 1974 she
taught her first course in women's studies at the State University
of New York at Purchase. In 1977, her short article "The
Anomaly of a Woman in Physics" about her treatment in graduate
school was published in a collection of essays entitled Working
It Out, and one of the women who read the article suggested
that Keller write something about Barbara McClintock. So, Keller
began interviews with the scientist who had only recently had
her lifetime of work recognized with the Nobel prize, work which
culminated in A Feeling for the Organism. The work was
uniquely personal for Keller because "Barbara McClintock
represented everything [she] was afraid of--that becoming a scientist
would mean [she'd] have to be alone" (Horning 65). During
the summer that Keller had spent at Cold Springs Harbor with
her brother's family, she had witnessed McClintock's isolated
lifestyle and her long lone walks. As she worked on this project,
she also continued to publish articles focusing on women's studies,
and particularly turned her attention to a psychological analysis
of the relationship of men, women and science.
In 1978 in Psychoanalysis and Contemporary
Thought: A Quarterly of Integrative Studies, Keller published
one of her first articles on the subject of "Gender and
Science." Her intent was to explain the masculine character
of science using the sociological- psychoanalytical perspective
and to show the distinction between the objective and the subjective
in order to link emotional and sexual identity with the development
of the capacity for scientific thought. At the time, her study
was groundbreaking, very little academic attention had been payed
to the topic. As Keller points out, "The virtual silence
of at least the nonfeminist academic community on this subject
suggests that the association of masculinity with scientific
thought has the status of a myth which either cannot or should
not be examined seriously" (409). She emphasizes that her
study is not to focus on the higher prevalence of males employed
in scientific fields than females but rather to focus on the
male character of the scientific discipline, as an organized
institution and as a construct for the production of scientific
knowledge. She notes that even within science the division of
the "hard" and "soft" sciences are often
referred to in terms of masculine and feminine.
From her sociological and psychoanalytical
perspective, Keller seeks to show that the notion of masculine
science is thoroughly entrenched in our society: "The identification
between scientific thought and masculinity is so deeply embedded
in the culture at large that children have little difficulty
internalizing that identification" (Nielsen 43). Keller
is speaking in generalities, though she does pepper her writing
with concrete examples from her own life--her son thought that
only men could be scientists. She is a theoretician; the calculated
studies of young children and their reaction to science at home
and in the classroom is the work of others. Her work focuses
on the domination that science seeks to obtain over Nature, a
phenomenon typically identified as feminine. In her essay Keller
states the case this way, "The complement of the scientific
mind is, of course, Nature--viewed so ubiquitously as female"
(Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 412). Science
is considered to be antithetical to Eros, hence any woman interested
in the study of science is by definition "unfeminine."
Thus, the heavily- stockinged, glasses-wearing, frumpy image
of a woman scientist emerges, as evidenced in James Watson's
description of Rosalind Franklin. Nature is objectified because
the knower is divided from the known, so the very act of obtaining
information becomes genderized.
In order to fully understand the process
through which gender affects science, it is necessary to uncover
the manner in which gender develops and show how this dichotomy
becomes a part of scientific thought. Keller defines her undertaking
in the following terms, "The task of explaining the associations
between masculine and scientific thus becomes, short of reverting
to an untenable biological reductionism, the task of understanding
the emotional substructure that links our experience of gender
with our cognitive experience" (Nielsen 45). As the individual
child forms his or her self, the ability to think objectively
becomes a part of the growth process. All humans in society must
go through the distinction of self from non-self in the passage
through adolescence to adulthood; the individual must also distinguish
between the subject and the object. Keller's psychological interpretation
of these passages hinges on the relationship of the infant and
the mother. The young child sees the mother as an extension of
the self. As the child grows, the process of separation from
the mother comes to stand for the capacity of the child to understand
objectivity, as based on the work of Piaget and Freud. Separation
from the mother elicits opposing desires--reunification and the
enjoyment of autonomy. According to Keller, "the recognition
of the independent reality of both self and other is a necessary
precondition both for science and for love" (Nielsen 47).
Keller's argument is contingent on the understanding that, for
most children, the emotional context from which the discrimination
between the self and the other is formed is based on the relationship
with the mother. Thus, this separation ultimately leads to a
"skewing of our perceptions of gender" (Neilsen 49).
The father represents the 'real' world because he is a member
of it, separate from the mother. He stands for the objectivity
of the individual; "Thus it is for that, for all of us--male
and female alike--our earliest experiences incline us to associate
the affective and cognitive posture of objectification with masculine,
while all processes which involve a blurring of the boundary
between subject and object tend to be associated with the feminine"
Through this construction concerning
the role of masculine and feminine, the truth itself takes on
a genderized value. Unlike girls, boys must actually separate
themselves from the mother figure twice--once to establish a
separate identity and a second time in order to recognize their
gender difference. Keller believes that one possible outcome
of this process of separation is excessive delineation in boys
because they are required to go through the process twice and
an inadequate attention to delineation in girls. This process
in turn leads to men who have difficulty participating in emotional
relationships and women who feel threatened by the concrete abstraction
of science. To support this assumption, Keller uses data from
a number of studies including those of Anne Roe to show such
trends in gender identification. The result is a vicious circle
in which as Keller states, "Not only does our characterization
of science thereby become colored by the biases of patriarchy
and sexism, but simultaneously our evaluation of masculine and
feminine becomes affected by the prestige of science" (Nielsen
54). Keller's final assessment in this article, however, is far
from pessimistic. She does not believe that this cycle is inevitable
and is hopeful that changes can be made to rectify the current
path through reevaluation of parenting, a change in the ethos
of science and gender, and an attitude which encourages the questioning
of old dogmas.
Keller's next major published work appeared
in the journal Signs in the Spring of 1982, one year
before her book on McClintock was published. Her focus for the
article entitled "Feminism and Science" was the question
of the intermingling of masculine bias with what purports to
be objective, scientific statement. Drawing on her earlier work,
Keller continues to attack the masculine character she finds
in science, but she is disturbed by the strong feminist critique
that she believes is harmful to the body of scientific thought.
She warns against a relativism possible in feminist theory that,
in her view, "dooms women to residing outside of real politik
modern culture" (Harding 233). She wished to deal with the
controversy of whether or not feminism and science were mutually
exclusive. Keller argues that "those elements of feminist
criticism that seem to conflict most with at least conventional
conceptions of science may, in fact, carry a liberating potential
for science" (Harding 233). She suggests that science may
learn from feminism and that feminism will be able to open discourses
within the sciences that will enhance the substructure of the
discipline while preserving the body of knowledge that science
Keller points out that there are a number
of critiques of science that run the gambit of the political
spectrum. Leftist criticism singles out unfair employment practices
insisting that the sex of scientists should not matter and that
the quality of science would not be affected by the presence
or absence of women scientists. This movement is supported by
the experience of feminists in other areas and recent developments
in the history and philosophy of science itself, including Thomas
Kuhn's explanation of the influence of society on science--scientific
knowledge beening shaped by political and social surroundings.
The intellectual danger resides in viewing
science as pure social product; science then dissolves into ideology
and objectivity loses all intrinsic meaning. In the resulting
cultural relativism, any emancipatory function of modern science
is negated, and the arbitration of truth recedes into the political
domain. Against this background, the temptation arises for feminists
to abandon their claim for representation in scientific culture
and, in its place, to invite a return to a purely female subjectivity,
leaving rationality and objectivity in the male domain, dismissed
as products of a purely male consciousness. (Harding 237)
Keller is walking a tightrope between
holding science responsible for a gender-specific relativism
while maintaining that objectivity does exist in the abstract
and should remain the goal of science whether exercised by men
or women. In her view, feminist relativism leads to circular
reasoning and actually makes the problem worse.
Keller believes that the task of feminist
theory within science should be "to distinguish that which
is parochial from that which is universal in the scientific impulse,
reclaiming for women what has historically been denied to them;
and to legitimate those elements of scientific culture that have
been denied precisely because they are defined as female"
(Harding 238). She reintroduces the object relations theory described
earlier to show personality development as related to the mother.
"Our early maternal environment, coupled with the cultural
definition of masculine (that which can never appear feminine)
and of autonomy (that which can never be compromised by dependency)
leads to the association of female with the pleasures and dangers
of merging, and of the male with the comfort and loneliness of
separateness" (Harding 239). Once again, Keller emphasizes
the young age at which these feelings are internalized, psychoanalysis
must be employed to get to the root of perceived gender difference.
She reiterates her theory that objectivity,
because of its association with a gendered form of separating
subject from object, comes to be associated with masculinity
through the father figure. "Central to the object relations
theory is the recognition that the condition of psychic autonomy
is double edged: it offers a profound source of pleasure, and
simultaneously of potential dread" (Harding 240). Competence
is thus achieved through an alienation of selfhood. The shift
in the child from the symbiotic union with the mother to the
autonomous self becomes the repression of related selfhood with
the "other." In her view, the male must overcome the
mother and transform his feelings of separation guilt into feelings
of aggression and rage in order to make the leap complete.
In 1983, Keller's biography of Barbara
McClintock, A Feeling for the Organism, appeared; five
months later McClintock was awarded the Nobel prize for physiology
and medicine. On one hand, Keller's work appeared at a very opportune
time in the sense that McClintock was finally being recognized
by the scientific community for her decades of careful study.
But, on the other hand, with an increasing awareness of McClintock's
research, the theoretical side of Keller's work may be lost as
it is instead read strictly as biography. Keller not only provides
a careful portrait of McClintock, her life, her work, and character,
but she also lays out a critique of science in terms of gender
and in terms of the discipline's inability to promote change.
In Kuhnian terms, Keller is dealing with a society paradigm--scientists
that refused to hear McClintock's insistent voice are finally
listening. McClintock's struggles as a female in her profession
are almost a footnote in A Feeling for the Organism
contained in a single chapter entitled, "A Career for Women."
This absence of conflict is largely due to the fact that McClintock
was able to come to terms with her gender very early in her career.
Keller does not write her biography as the story of a woman scientist
excluded because of her gender. As Elaine Ognibene points out
in her review of the book, the biography is "an analysis
of the rhetoric of science, the social construction of scientific
knowledge, and the value context in which scientific discoveries
are made" (392).
Keller does, however, point to the difference
in McClintock's technique which many might term a "feminine"
slant. McClintock spent her years of study on the maize plant.
While the scientific community moved on to phage and bacteria,
she labored in the field harvesting a minimum of two crops a
year and spending the rest of her time carefully examining each
kernel of her precious yield. Her study of corn was devoted to
complete understanding of the organism, not to experimentation
directed to discern a particular fact. In her interviews with
Keller, McClintock continually emphasized the special relationship
that she was able to establish through her work. She felt that
she was a part of the corn. She actually got to a point in her
career where she could look at the corn kernels and accurately
predict the genetic makeup that lay in the genotype.
Keller's concluding paragraph to this
biography is, as most of her books and articles end, a hopeful
look at the future of science. "If Barbara McClintock's
story illustrates the fallibility of science, it also bears witness
to the underlying health of the scientific enterprise" (197).
Her work was eventually recognized, and she was honored as one
of the great geneticists of her time. McClintock pays homage
to the fascinating mechanisms that exist in nature, concluding
that the force which controls natural existence has the ability
to guarantee survival, thus, dramatically moving beyond both
Lamarck and Darwin.
Reviews of the book were very favorable.
Lauding Keller for realizing the importance of McClintock's work
in advance of the general scientific community, although some
reviewers including Bentley Glass criticized Keller's lack of
focus on the material research of McClintock's life. Glass points
out that there "is not one photograph of a maize chromosome,
or of a translocation of segments between chromosomes, or of
a nucleolus organizer and nucleolus" (601). He does admit,
however, that such an analysis may take several decades to complete
in a fully documented manner. Other reviews generally appreciated
Keller's work, and this acceptance laid the groundwork for her
next major publication, Reflections on Gender and Science.
Keller opens this publication which
is published one year later with the following poignant paragraph
expressing her personal relationship to her current project:
A decade ago, I was deeply engaged (if
not quite fully content) in my work as a mathematical biophysicist.
I believed wholeheartedly in the laws of physics, and in their
place at the apex of knowledge. Sometime in the mid-1970s--overnight,
as it were--another kind of question took precedence, upsetting
my entire intellectual hierarchy: How much of the nature of science
is bound up with the idea of masculinity, and what would it mean
for science if it were otherwise? (3)
In this pivotal work in the history
of science, Keller is not merely seeking to understand men or
even women, for that matter, but the discipline of science and
the constructs that have left it as a predominantly male-oriented
field. She begins with the assumption that all three variables--men,
women, and science--are socially created phenomena and that delving
into the manner in which men and women are "made" in
society will shed light on the making of science. Building on
her early work, she concludes that men and women are made not
born as is the discipline of science. Science must exist in a
context, as Kuhn's work makes clear, but Keller again raises
the caution of not allowing these contexts to degenerate into
relativism. Science should be recognized as the search for "truth"
or value in Nature, but, as with all human endeavors, cannot
be infallible because it is performed by humanity.
Looking back at the founding of modern
science, she sees the work of Bacon and other scientists of his
time as clearly reinforcing the male ideal and glorifying in
the subjugation of Nature to the scientific ideal. Because of
this historical attitude, the practice of science has been tainted,
so a study of science becomes by default a study of male personae:
"Of course, to focus on the personal, emotional, and sexual
dimensions of the construction and acceptance of claims to scientific
knowledge is, precisely because of the male-centeredness of this
tradition to focus on the personal, emotional, and sexual dimensions
of male experience" (Reflections on Gender and Science
Keller's final caution in the introduction
to this collection of essays is to point to the success of science.
She does not deny that science has made great progress in the
last century, nor does she wish to change the manner in which
research is done. Science continues to be, for her, "the
search for reliable, shareable knowledge of the world around
us" (Reflections 11), but this analysis should
not be weighed down by reflections on gender. Although Keller
claims not to have been aware of the controversy that the book
would cause during the writing process, she did begin to realize
when the advanced copies arrived that she might, in her own words,
be torn "limb from limb" (Horning 66). The format of
the book was in three parts, each focusing on a different issue
in science--historical perspectives, psychological perspectives,
and scientific/philosophical work.
Keller's prevailing thesis through all
three sections is that scientific thought utilizes a male-dominated
discourse. She supports her claim with a thorough interpretation
of the founding of modern science in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, an examination of Freudian psychoanalytic conceptions
of gender, and how her philosophy may be applied to everyday
scientific practice. Drawing on her early published work and
papers presented at conferences, Keller was able to rework her
conclusions with the comments and criticism of those who were
familiar with what she was attempting to suggest. The hornet's
nest of reaction that Keller stirred up was both encouraging
and disappointing. In one review Pamela Weintraub wrote, "Her
conclusions cast a pall on science and its glorified priesthood,
whose powerful political bias affects the 'description of nature'
emerging from the lab," going on to encourage Keller's attempts
to dislodge notions of the objectivity of science (76). Among
her supportors are such well-known names as Carol Cohn, Stephen
Jay Gould, and David Noble, but there are also a large number
of dissenting voices within and without of the scientific community.
What is particularly disturbing about
many of these voices is that close reading of their arguments
reveal that they have either not read Reflection or
have vastly misunderstood the argument. Keller is often accused
of seeking to overthrow traditional scientific study in favor
of a discipline run by mystical female scientists who are inherently
more intuitive than their male counterparts--not what Keller
was trying to say at all. And even among supporters of her ideas,
Keller's writing style is criticized. In a glowing review, Evelyn
Shaw credits Keller with finally speaking out about the problems
inherent in scientific discourse. As a working scientist, Shaw
begins her article with a personal story of her own early experiences
with male colleagues who told her that she would do well because
she had a "male" mind. Today, she agrees with Keller:
"Older, wiser, and more reflective, I can now appreciate
the enormous gender bias inherent in the natural sciences, not
just in the exclusion of women scientists (unless they thought
like men), but also in science itself" (36). Shaw's conclusion
to the article, however, is a terse paragraph strongly criticizing
I wish that I could say that I really
enjoyed reading this ponderous collection of essays in which
words do not flow easily. What concerns me is that the book will
find its way to the reference shelves of women's studies programs
and be buried there, when its main topic, the elimination of
gender bias in science, needs constant airing and discussion
in the scientific community. (Shaw 36)
Keller's work can be highly theoretical,
especially in its psychoanalysis and philosophical perspectives,
but it can hardly be described as unreadable, in my opinion.
Major criticism of Keller's life work,
however, began in 1989, when Evelleen Richards and John Schuster
opened a dialogue with her by publishing an article in Social
Studies of Science in which they repudiated her claims of
gender-bias within science, arguing that her statements were
theoretically and methodologically flawed. They claimed that
Keller's studies focused on the utility of methodological discourses
as "flexible rhetorical resources in the social processes
of knowledge construction and negotiation of scientific knowledge
claims," rather than literal accounts of scientific practice.
(Richards and Schuster 698) They questioned the possibility of
feminism promoting any real change in the social institution
of science through method discourses and urged caution regarding
taking such discourses on a literal level. They also did not
approve of her use of "internalist historiographies"
as revealed through the story of Barbara McClintock and compared
these reading with the life of Rosalind Franklin.
Keller responded to this analysis by
claiming that Richards and Schuster were misinterpreting feminist
understanding of gender, particularly their emphasis on the ways
that it is socioculturally constructed. She also pointed out
that the final section of Reflections on Gender and Science
dealt specifically with issues of everyday science. Richards
and Schuster continued the argument in a subsequent article claiming
that Keller had misinterpreted their argument and reiterating
their position on science and the literal inefficiency of method
discourses. This argument could conceivably have continued in
this fashion, however both parties ceased to publish open responses
after this final exchange.
Keller's more recent works have taken
a more conservative tone, not necessarily because she has changed
her views but primarily because society shifted since her first
publications in the 1970s. In Secrets of Life, Secrets of
Death published in 1992 her first chapter is an extended
update on the issue of gender and science, pointing out that
by the present standards of science and feminist studies her
ideas which were revolutionary in 1978 are quite mild. She does
not wish to recant her former statements about science and gender,
but she emphasizes the respect that should be maintained for
the scientific discipline:
Indeed, it is precisely because of the
testimony of our technological prowess, because science as we
know it 'works' so extraordinarily well (that is, because it
so effectively meets so many of the goals set for it), that I
have become increasingly uncomfortable with the limitations of
my initial preoccupations with scientific representations of
'nature,' and correspondingly compelled to think about the force
and efficacy of these representations. (Keller 4)
Keller chooses in this later writing
to focus more on what is happening in the lab than on the social
constructs that have created that working space. Her focus becomes
the language used to exchange information within that setting--for
example, the use of the term "competition" in speaking
about how organisms react when they are in a setting with limited
resources. This word connotes an aggressive quality that may
not fully account for the modes in which adaptation to such situations
occurs. The connotations of "competition" are, therefore,
deemed masculine in origin and inappropriate in the study of
Keller's most recent work Refiguring
Life takes a radically different approach and is essentially
unrelated to her work on gender. She claims to have gotten started
on the project when she criticized the Human Genome Project because
she does not believe that genes could control all aspects of
human development and was countered with the arguments that scientists
are beginning to discover how genes affect embryonic growth.
In her own words she responded, "Oh yeah? Really? I thought
I better find out what they were talking about and what I discovered
was so interesting that it completely shifted the course of my
research" (Horning 68). Molecular biology in recent years
has increasingly moved to a study of a system of feedback within
the cell in which the cytoplasm would act to affect construction
in the nucleus. Keller follows this strand of thought through
the history of molecular biology in new work that leaves behind
her conundrum on gender and science.
Keller continues to be well respected
in her field, and her career is far from over. Each new book
brings a new perspective and a revision of her old ideas in favor
of new and emerging paradigms. Her views on science remain respectful
while cautioning that the search to understand nature can never
be accomplished outside of a socially-constructed arena. I will
close, allowing Keller to speak in her own voice in a passage
taken from the epilogue to Reflections:
Just because we are finite beings, located,
situated, embodied, we can, and can only, muddle through--sometimes
with more success than at others. Scientists muddle through with
staggering success. Only there success is rather different than
they imagine. It depends not on any possibility of translating
thought into action, but on the conjoining practices of a colluding
community of common language speakers. Our task as historians
and philosophers of science is to make sense of the successes
of science in terms of the particular linguistic and material
conventions that scientists have forged for their sorts of muddling
Search for books on/by Evelyn Fox
Keller at Amazon.com
Glass, Bentley. "A Feeling for
the Organism: Book Review." Isis. July 1984: 600-601.
Harding, Sandra and Jean F. O'Barr,
eds. Sex and Scientific Inquiry. Chicago: U of Chicago
Harding, Sandra and Merrill B. Hintikka,
eds. Discovering Reality. Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel
Publishing Company, 1983.
Horning, Beth. "The Controversial
Career of Evelyn Fox Keller." Technology Review.
January 1993: 58-68.
Keller, Evelyn Fox. A Feeling for
the Organism. New York: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1983.
Keller, Evelyn Fox. "Gender and
Science." Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought.
September 1978: 409-433.
Keller, Evelyn Fox and Elisabeth A.
Lloyd, ed. Keywords in Evolutionary Biology. Cambridge:
Harvard UP, 1992.
Keller, Evelyn Fox. Refiguring Life.
NY: Columbia UP: 1995.
Keller, Evelyn Fox. Reflections
on Gender and Science. New Haven: Yale UP, 1985.
Keller, Evelyn Fox. Secrets of Life,
Secrets of Death. NY: Routledge, 1992.
Nielsen, Joyce McCarl, ed. Feminist
Research Methods. Boulder: Westview Press, 1990.
Ognibene, Elaine. "A Feeling for
the Organism, Book Review." Quarterly Journal of Speech.
August 1985: 392-394.
Richards, Evelleen and John Schuster.
"The Feminine Method as Myth and Accounting Resource: A
Challenge to Gender Studies and Social Studies of Science."
Social Studies of Science. 4 November 1989: 697-720.
Shaw, Evelyn. "Can we rename nature?"
New York Times Review of Books. 21 April 1985: 36.
Tuana, Nancy, ed. Feminism and Science.
Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1989.
Weintraub, Pamela. "Superforce,
Planiverse, Time's Arrows, and Other Adventures in Science."
Ms. June 1985: 76.
Zuckerman, Harriet, Jonathan Cole, and
John Bruer. The Outer Circle. NY: W. W. Norton &
For bibliographies of Keller's work
Work by and/or including Keller's