Donna Haraway (1944-) - Key Figures in Literary Theory

The Blackwell Guide to Literary Theory - Gregory Castle 2007

Donna Haraway (1944-)
Key Figures in Literary Theory

Donna Haraway was born in Denver, Colorado, and studied zoology and philosophy at Colorado College. After a brief period as a Fulbright scholar studying evolutionary theory in Paris, she studied biology at Yale University, where she received her doctorate in 1972. After teaching at the University of Hawaii and Johns Hopkins University, Haraway joined the faculty of the History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1980.

Haraway’s interdisciplinary studies of technology and gender have had a powerful impact on Cultural Studies, Postmodernism, and Feminism. Her first book, Crystals, Fabrics and Fields (1976), based on her dissertation, concerned the way metaphors are used to describe organic development in biology. In her second book, Primate Visions, she began to explore the representation of gender and race in modern science. Haraway’s Cultural Studies approach to science and its representations challenges our presuppositions about science, gender, nature, and humanity. Like Michel Foucault and other poststructuralists, Haraway is interested in the Nietzschean project of “overcoming” the Enlightenment and all of its intellectual categories. She is especially concerned with deconstructing ESSENTIALIST and UNIVERSALIST claims that human beings and nature are ontological and epistemological givens, prior to all construction or representation. “A Manifesto for Cyborgs” (1985) and Simians, Cyborgs, and Women (1991) counter these claims with a vision of

the cyborg, a new model for describing the relationship in postmodernity between human beings and science. Haraway argues that this vision is especially valuable for socialism and radical Feminism, for the cyborg model is a powerful reminder that the SUBJECT and SUBJECTIVITY are hybrid creations - part nature, part machine - and subject to re-creation for revolutionary purposes.

Modest_Witness@Second_Millenium (1997) continues Haraway's exploration of Postmodern science. In this volume, she examines how genetic research creates the body as a kind of “hypertext” that requires a new form of “technoscience” to map and understand. Haraway's theories have proven immensely popular, as her speaking schedule and the websites devoted to her work amply demonstrate.


Haraway, Donna. The Haraway Reader. New York and London: Routledge, 2004.

---- . Modest_Witness@Second_Millenium.FemaleMan_Meets_OncoMouse: Feminism and Technoscience. With paintings by Lynn M. Randolph. New York: Routledge, 1997.

---- . Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge, 1991.