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Atherton, Margaret, , . Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period
1994, Hackett Publishing Company.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Bart Schultz

Publisher’s Note: An important selection from the largely unknown writings of women philosophers of the early modern period. Each selection is prefaced by a headnote giving a biographical account of its author and setting the piece in historical context. Atherton’s Introduction provides a solid framework for assessing these works and their place in modern philosophy.

Comment: Wonderful collection of selections by early modern women philosophers.
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Broad, Jacqueline, , . Women Philosophers of the Seventeenth Century
2002, Cambridge University Press.
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Added by: Alison Stone, Contributed by: Karen Green

Publisher’s Note: In this rich and detailed study of early modern women’s thought, Jacqueline Broad explores the complexity of women’s responses to Cartesian philosophy and its intellectual legacy in England and Europe. She examines the work of thinkers such as Mary Astell, Elisabeth of Bohemia, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway and Damaris Masham, who were active participants in the intellectual life of their time and were also the respected colleagues of philosophers such as Descartes, Leibniz and Locke. She also illuminates the continuities between early modern women’s thought and the anti-dualism of more recent feminist thinkers. The result is a more gender-balanced account of early modern thought than has hitherto been available. Broad’s clear and accessible exploration of this still-unfamiliar area will have a strong appeal to both students and scholars in the history of philosophy, women’s studies and the history of ideas.

Comment: The book is organised around six authors: Elisabeth of Bohemia, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Mary Astell, Damaris Masham and Catherine Trotter Cockburn. The book focuses on their relations to Cartesianism and this means the book can be readily used on a history of modern philosophy course. It can be treated as introducing the ideas of all the women philosophers just mentioned and, e.g., a chapter could be further reading each week accompanying primary texts by the women philosophers in question.

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De Pizan, Christine, , . The Book of the City of Ladies
1999, Penguin Classics; New Ed edition
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Kathleen Gill (kagill@stcloudstate.edu)

Publisher’s Note: Christine de Pizan (c.1364-1430) was France’s first professional woman of letters. Her pioneering Book of the City of Ladies begins when, feeling frustrated and miserable after reading a male writer’s tirade against women, Christine has a dreamlike vision where three virtues – Reason, Rectitude and Justice – appear to correct this view. They instruct her to build an allegorical city in which womankind can be defended against slander, its walls and towers constructed from examples of female achievement both from her own day and the past: ranging from warriors, inventors and scholars to prophetesses, artists and saints. Christine de Pizan’s spirited defence of her sex was unique for its direct confrontation of the misogyny of her day, and offers a telling insight into the position of women in medieval culture.THE CITY OF LADIES provides positive images of women, ranging from warriors and inventors, scholars to prophetesses, and artists to saints. The book also offers a fascinating insight into the debates and controversies about the position of women in medieval culture.

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Pomeroy, Sarah B., , . The Pythagorean Women: Their History and Writings
2013, The Johns Hopkins University Press
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Bart Schultz

Publisher’s Note: In Pythagorean Women, classical scholar Sarah B. Pomeroy discusses the groundbreaking principles that Pythagoras established for family life in Archaic Greece, such as constituting a single standard of sexual conduct for women and men. Among the Pythagoreans, women played an important role and participated actively in the philosophical life. While Pythagoras encouraged women to be submissive to men, his reasoning was based on the desire to preserve harmony in the home. Pythagorean Women provides English translations of all the earliest extant examples of literary Greek prose by Neopythagorean women, shedding light on their attitudes about marriage, the home, music, and the cosmos. Pomeroy sets the Pythagorean and Neopythagorean women vividly in their historical, ecological, and intellectual contexts, illustrated with original photographs of sites and artifacts known to these women.

Comment: Great work demonstrating how ancient Pythagorean philosophy welcomedwomen philosophers.
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Pomeroy, Sarah B., , . The study of women in antiquity: Past, present, and future
1991, American Journal of Philology 112 (2).
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Clotilde Torregrossa

Abstract: The publication of Arethusa 6 in 1973 inaugurated the serious study of women in antiquity in our time. Classics was one of many disciplines to begin developing a subfield of women’s studies in the early 1970s. Since then, has the study of women in antiquity become part of the “mainstream”? In order to answer this question I decided to examine articles and reviews published in current periodicals. I spent one day (October 1, 1990) skimming through the journals on display racks at the Ashmolean and Bodleian Libraries, assuming that they constituted a random sample. I looked at all the journals in Classics, Archaeology, and Ancient History that could conceivably have some material on women in antiquity. I checked only the titles listed in the main index of each journal; book reviews that were not listed in such an index were not noted. My criterion for including an article or review was that it could be of special value to someone teaching a specialised course or doing research on women in antiquity as well as to readers with a more casual interest in the subject. I do not claim any statistical significance for this survey. Nor is it intended to alert readers to a dearth of articles and reviews on ancient women in particular journals; for example, Arethusa frequently publishes work in this field, but I happened to examine a special issue on pastoral. I looked at forty-five journals. Of these, twenty-two did not have an article or review relevant to the study of ancient women. Twenty-three journals contained at least one title and of these Helios had devoted an entire issue to Feminist scholars, including those who are not specialists in classical antiquity, would probably be particularly interested in some of the articles in Helios and in Larissa Bonfante’s study of nudity. The vast majority of the publications are traditional historical or literary studies. But I doubt that they would have been so numerous without the inspiration of feminism, however remote from the mind of some of the authors. This little survey confirmed my sense that the study of women has, indeed, become part, albeit a very small part, of the mainstream of Classical Studies.

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Suchon, Gabrielle, , . A Woman Who Defends All the Persons of Her Sex: Selected Philosophical and Moral Writings
2010, University of Chicago Press.
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Publisher’s Note: During the oppressive reign of Louis XIV, Gabrielle Suchon (1632-1703) was the most forceful female voice in France, advocating women’s freedom and self-determination, access to knowledge, and assertion of authority. This volume collects Suchon’s writing from two works – Treatise on Ethics and Politics (1693) and On the Celibate Life Freely Chosen; or, Life without Commitments (1700) – and demonstrates her to be an original philosophical and moral thinker and writer. Suchon argues that both women and men have inherently similar intellectual, corporeal, and spiritual capacities, which entitle them equally to essentially human prerogatives, and she displays her breadth of knowledge as she harnesses evidence from biblical, classical, patristic, and contemporary secular sources to bolster her claim. Forgotten over the centuries, these writings have been gaining increasing attention from feminist historians, students of philosophy, and scholars of seventeenth-century French literature and culture. This translation, from Domna C. Stanton and Rebecca M. Wilkin, marks the first time these works will appear in English.

Comment: This volume could be assigned in an early modern (survey) course together with other texts by women philosophers of this time, such as Mary Astell. Suchon’s prose is long-winded but clear. There are a number of tensions in the text between (some of) Suchon’s ideas, which offer a good opportunity for discussion with students.

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