During this past summer’s NEH Institute in Boulder, one of the principal topics was the place of women in the history of philosophy. Nearly all the discussion, however, concerned women in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. So, I’ve been wondering, what about women philosophers in the Middle Ages? Is any good work being done? Is anyone teaching this material? What material is there, anyway?
The conversation in Boulder mirrored a larger conversation taking place across the profession. There is, for instance, the Feminist History of Philosophy blog. Andrew Janiak and colleagues at Duke have launched Project Vox, which “seeks to recover the lost voices of women who have been ignored in standard narratives of the history of modern philosophy. We aim to change those narratives, thereby changing what students around the world learn about philosophy’s history.” Janiak, together with Christia Mercer, has even gotten these issues into the Washington Post. But all of these discussions are focused on the post-medieval era.
The APA is collecting syllabi that model diversity and inclusiveness, but so far no one has submitted a syllabus for a medieval course that includes women philosophers.
Moreover, conferences abound, including:
- an interdisciplinary conference at Christ Church (Oxford) on “Women and the Canon” (22-23 Jan. 2016)
- a conference at Duke on New Narratives in Philosophy: Rediscovering neglected works by early modern women (April 14-17, 2016)
- a Pacific APA session on “Women in the History of Philosophy of Religion” (March 30-April 2, 2016)
So, again, I wonder, is anyone worrying about this stuff in the medieval period? If so, is anyone doing anything about it? Over the next week or two, I’ll post some responses to these questions that I’ve solicited from a couple of scholars who have been thinking about this. But if there’s anyone else out there who wants to share their thoughts, feel free to write up a comment or send a link to a syllabus.