New Book: Women on Liberty 1600-1800

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Table of contents: 

Introduction, Jacqueline Broad and Karen Detlefsen
Part I: Ethical and Political Liberty
1: Liberty and Feminism in Early Modern Women’s Writing, Karen Detlefsen
2: François Poulain de la Barre on the Subjugation of Women, Martina Reuter
3: Gabrielle Suchon’s ‘Neutralist’: The Status of Women and the Invention of Autonomy, Lisa Shapiro
4: Marriage, Slavery, and the Merger of Wills: Responses to Sprint, 1700-01, Jacqueline Broad
5: Locke, Enlightenment, and Liberty in the Works of Catharine Macaulay and her Contemporaries, Karen Green
6: Mary Wollstonecraft and Freedom as Independence, Lena Halldenius
7: Sophie de Grouchy, The Tradition(s) of Two Liberties, and the Missing Mother(s) of Liberalism, Eric Schliesser
8: Liberty of Mind: Women Philosophers and the Freedom to Philosophize, Sarah Hutton
Part II: Metaphysical and Religious Liberty
9: Freedom and Necessity in the Work of Margaret Cavendish, Deborah Boyle
10: Anne Conway on Liberty, Marcy P. Lascano
11: Mary Astell on Liberty, Alice Sowaal
12: If I were King! Morals and Physics in Emilie Du Châtelet’s Subtle Thoughts on Liberty, Ruth Hagengruber
13: Creation, Divine Freedom, and Catharine Cockburn: An Intellectualist on Possible Worlds and Contingent Laws, Emily Thomas

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The Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists at Paderborn University invites you to attend their upcoming conference


23-24 November 2017

Speakers will be:
George Heffernan (Merrimack College) – Between Husserl’s Phenomenology and Heidegger’s Philosophy of Existence: Edith Stein’s Phenomenology of the Human Person
Ronny Miron (Bar-Ilan University) – “Down to a truer approximation of reality”: Hedwig Conrad-Martius’ Critical Alternative to Idealistic Philosophy
Íngrid Vendrell Ferran (Universität Jena) – Else Voigtländer’s Theory of Emotions and Self-Feelings
Sophie Loidolt (Universität Kassel) – Hannah Arendt’s Phenomenology of Plurality
Thomas Vongehr (KU Leuven) – Erika Gothe und Margarete Ortmann: Nähe und Distanz zur Phänomenologischen Bewegung
Daniele De Santis (University of Rome II) – “Viatores” and Transcendental Idealism. Positive and Negative Function of the Doctrine of “Angelology” in Edith Stein
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Review of The Social and Political Philosophy of Mary Wollstonecraft

Alan Coffee and I are grateful to Ruth Hagengruber for this excellent review!

Read the review on NPDR here.

The Social and Political Philosophy of Mary Wollstonecraft, edited by Sandrine Berges and Alan Coffee can be purchased here.

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New Book on Mary Shelley by Eileen Hunt Botting

A new publication from University of Pennsylvania Press

Free postage to UK customers

Mary Shelley and the Rights of the Child

Political Philosophy in “Frankenstein”

Eileen Hunt Botting

“While there has been a great deal written within literary theory and criticism on the novel Frankenstein, and there is a substantial, and growing, literature within moral and political philosophy on the rights of children and the obligations of parents, Mary Shelley and the Rights of the Child is the first book to bring these two areas of inquiry together. Eileen Hunt Botting’s fascinating analysis shows how literary texts, suitably reinterpreted, can make better sense of key philosophical claims.”—David Archard, Queen’s University Belfast

“Treating the creature as an abandoned and abused child, Eileen Hunt Botting brilliantly uses the novel Frankenstein to mount a series of thought experiments that interrogate the enduring political questions of whether children have rights and, if so, which ones. Deftly summarizing the positions of such writers as Hobbes, Rousseau, Wollstonecraft, and Onora O’Neill, Botting persuasively argues for a child’s universal rights to care, identity, and love—rights that Botting here extends to disabled, stateless, and genetically modified children.”—Anne K. Mellor, University of California, Los Angeles

“Readers of Mary Shelley and the Rights of the Child will never again be able to read Frankenstein simply as a work of Gothic fiction that questioned the counter-theology and scientific bravado of its day. Eileen Hunt Botting, more thoroughly than any previous commentator, has revealed the philosophical content of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and has firmly placed it in the context of modern political thought.”—Gordon Schochet, Rutgers University

From her youth, Mary Shelley immersed herself in the social contract tradition, particularly the educational and political theories of John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, as well as the radical philosophies of her parents, the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and the anarchist William Godwin. Against this background, Shelley wrote Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus, first published in 1818. In the two centuries since, her masterpiece has been celebrated as a Gothic classic and its symbolic resonance has driven the global success of its publication, translation, and adaptation in theater, film, art, and literature. However, in Mary Shelley and the Rights of the Child, Eileen Hunt Botting argues that Frankenstein is more than an original and paradigmatic work of science fiction—it is a profound reflection on a radical moral and political question: do children have rights?

Botting contends that Frankenstein invites its readers to reason through the ethical consequences of a counterfactual premise: what if a man had used science to create a human life without a woman? Immediately after the Creature’s “birth,” his scientist-father abandons him and the unjust and tragic consequences that follow form the basis of Frankenstein’s plot. Botting finds in the novel’s narrative structure a series of interconnected thought experiments that reveal how Shelley viewed Frankenstein’s Creature for what he really was—a stateless orphan abandoned by family, abused by society, and ignored by law. The novel, therefore, compels readers to consider whether children have the right to the fundamental means for their development as humans—namely, rights to food, clothing, shelter, care, love, education, and community.

In Botting’s analysis, Frankenstein emerges as a conceptual resource for exploring the rights of children today, especially those who are disabled, stateless, or genetically modified by medical technologies such as three-parent in vitro fertilization and, perhaps in the near future, gene editing. Mary Shelley and the Rights of the Child concludes that the right to share love and community, especially with parents or fitting substitutes, belongs to all children, regardless of their genesis, membership, or social status.

Eileen Hunt Botting is Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame and author of Wollstonecraft, Mill, and Women’s Human Rights and Family Feuds: Wollstonecraft, Burke, and Rousseau on the Transformation of the Family.

University of Pennsylvania Press | Haney Foundation Series | October 2017 | 232pp |  9780812249620 | HB | £33.00*

20% discount with this code: CSL17FRANK**

*Price subject to change.

**Offer excludes the USA, Canada and South America.

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CFP Special Issue on Mary Wollstonecraft in the Journal of Gender Studies

Mary Wollstonecraft, feminist pioneer: Life, Work and Contemporary Importance

Journal of Gender Studies Special issue (Guest Editors: Kathleen Lennon and Rachel Alsop)

Papers are welcome on any aspect of Wollstonecraft’s life, work and legacy from Gender Studies, Philosophy, Politics, History, Literature, Education or any other relevant discipline. To be submitted via ScholarOne  by 22nd January 2018.

Any questions please email Dr Rachel Alsop

Topics can include, but are not limited to:

  • Wollstonecraft’s Life and Legacy
  • Philosophy and Feminism
  • Women and Revolutionary Times
  • Wollstonecraft and her Circle
  • Mothers and Daughters
  • A Vindication of the Rights of Women
  • Travel Writing
  • Women and Politics
  • Reason and Passion: A life of Contradictions
  • Memorialising our Feminist Past


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Deadline approaching: Bridging the Gender Gap Through Time, London, 23 February 2018.

Friday, 23rd February 2018, King’s College London.

Convenors:  Sandrine Bergès (Bilkent), Alan Coffee (King’s)
Keynote Speakers: Eileen Hunt Botting (Notre Dame) and TBA

Conference webpage.

We invite abstracts of between 300 and 500 words. Talks will be 20 minutes long with a further 10 minutes for discussion and questions.

Please send abstracts prepared for anonymous review or any enquiries to by 30 September 2017. We aim to notify participants by 30 October. Registration for all other attendees will open in due course.

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.

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Talk at Boğaziçi: Fiona TOMKINSON on ‘ANNE CONWAY: Autonomy, Infinity & Gender’ (Friday, 15/09/2017)

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