Othering the Brother: Toward a Sibling-Oriented Ethics of Care


Othering the Brother: Toward a Sibling-Oriented Ethics of Care



William Bryant


Presentation: 2:20-2:40 p.m., Kennedy Union 310



This project will be an examination of issues of childcare, gendered responsibilities, and family identity informed by feminist and queer theory. As the second oldest in a family of eight, I have always understood myself primarily as a big brother. Rooted in this experience, this project will be an exploration of feminist care ethics as they pertain to existing family structures. I aim to review and build upon feminist conversations surrounding the family, especially concerning motherhood. Then, working with more recent queer and trans discourse, I want to explore how different familial care practices have been limited, reconfigured, or erased under dominant cis-heteronormative notions of care. This will complicate many of the mother-oriented feminist theories of care, while still accounting for the work that occurs within the family—however 'family' may be defined. Finally, I will look at Virginia Woolf’s "To the Lighthouse" to recover and rethink representations of sibling care, especially as an alternative to the reproduction of gendered roles which often occurs between parent and child. This project will sketch a theory of sibling care practices, articulating what they have meant to me and what they can mean for our current social demands. Ultimately, I seek to understand how sibling relationships can forge networks of care beyond the typical family hierarchies and how the public sibling subject stands as a new ethical position which may attend to specifically queer needs.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Honors Thesis

Primary Advisor

David Fine

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Institutional Learning Goals

Community; Vocation; Critical Evaluation of Our Times

Othering the Brother: Toward a Sibling-Oriented Ethics of Care