Keynote Speaker: Eileen Hunt Botting – University of Notre Dame
Women have had a far deeper and more extensive influence on the history than is commonly realised. Far from confining their interests to questions of gender and domestic matters, women have been writing on all aspects of philosophy for as long as such a discipline can be identified. Indeed, it is often surprising just how much high quality philosophical and political thought women have produced throughout history given that so few of the writers are known outside of a few specialist departments.
Across history, women’s writing is now being recovered not as marginal but as theoretically important in its own right. Amongst the many names one could list, we might think of Hildegard von Bingen and Christine de Pizan from the Middle Ages; Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, and Mary Astell in the Early Modern Period; Catharine Macaulay, Mary Wollstonecraft, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, as well as Olympe de Gouges and Sophie de Grouchy, in the revolutionary period of the Enlightenment; to say nothing of Mary Prince, Harriet Jacobs, and Sojourner Truth amongst the numerous slave and abolitionist writings of the nineteenth century.
In spite of the many difficulties women have had in making their voices heard philosophically – women did not have access to the highest levels of education, they often had to confine themselves to safe subjects to avoid social censure, they frequently found it necessary to write anonymously or to destroy one’s work, and they were in any case not normally taken seriously – their work far was more influential in their own time than we often realise today, and it still has the potential to speak to us in our own time through its influence on contemporary debates and issues.
The purpose of this conference is both to raise awareness of the rich historical tradition of women’s philosophy as well as to help make the connection with current social, moral, political and philosophical debate by bringing neglected women writers, past and present, into dialogue with today’s discourses.
We invite submissions for papers on any related theme, including but not limited to those named above. We are also interested in papers focused on women writing from a non-Western tradition, or under conditions of social or political oppression today. Presentations may address any area of philosophy, or of social, moral and political thinking more widely conceived. Some suggested topics include women philosophers on education, social reform, or revolution.