Context (ca. 1500-1700)
June 12-13, 2023, University College Dublin
This two-day seminar aims at developing approaches to the history of the early Enlightenment,
focusing on the engagement of women in both the practice of religion and discussion of
theology in the post-Reformation period. Our seminar will explore how social practices such
as participation in religious organisations and discussion, were mutually entwined with the
development of foundational Enlightenment concepts such democracy, egalitarianism,
freedom of conscience, free speech, and tolerant co-existence. For example, social practices
where we can see evidence of women’s participation include philanthropy, court hearings,
education and caring work, letter writing, pamphleteering, as well as authoring more formal
We invite contributions on early modern women within religious contexts, focusing on how
their activities fostered new cross-cultural social relations specifically in the public sphere,
including transnational dimensions. Particular attention will be given to women who were
members of religious minorities and dissenting groups and those who changed their religious
positions or seemed to hold a plurality of views. Possible subjects include, but are not limited
− Women and their participation in religious communities;
− Women’s social relationships with men;
− Women as educators and charity workers in local and regional contexts;
− Women writers and religious, metaphysical, and political ideas;
− Women’s poetry and playwriting in private and urban contexts;
− Women’s development of new genres of writing such as speculative fiction;
− Women and controversy;
− Debates on the status and ‘problem’ of women and the meaning of ‘female’;
− Women and the emerging of the public sphere.
Participants will be given 30-40 minutes for their paper presentations, followed by comments
by a designated respondent and with time for a general Q&A with the seminar participants.
The seminar is scheduled for June 12-13, 2023, and it will be held at UCD School of
Philosophy, University College Dublin, as part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral
Fellowship funded project EuWoRD (European Women and Religious Dissent: The Advent of
Modernity and the Democratic Public Sphere), in cooperation and with the support of UCD
Newman Centre for the Study of Religions. The deadline for submission of abstracts is
March 31. Please submit a paper proposal of no more than 300 words, prepared for blind
review. Please leave biographical details such as current institutional affiliation (if any) in the
body of the email. Send to email@example.com.
We especially welcome submissions from early career researchers. There will be no conference
registration fees and there are bursaries available to support participation by those who may
not have institutional funding or have caring responsibilities. We envisage this will be an inperson
event. The conference events will be fully accessible to wheelchair users. The
conference organisers also welcome inquiries about supporting other disability needs.
Refreshments, lunches and a conference dinner will be provided to speakers.