Thursday, March 7, 2013

A London confab of philosophers

The end of May will see a one-day symposium on The Social and Political Thought of Mary Wollstonecraft, hosted by that very special constituent of the University of London, Birkbeck College, "a world-class research and teaching institution, a vibrant centre of academic excellence and London's only specialist provider of evening higher education". Best of all, the event is freely open to everyone. Thursday 30 May, 9am to 5pm: mark your diaries now. Its description: 
Mary Wollstonecraft is by any accounts a remarkable and versatile thinker. Long appreciated as an inspirational and visionary feminist, she was also a noted historian, travel writer, educator, novelist and activist. Only recently, however, is she being rediscovered as an important and innovative philosopher in her own right, and one who deserves to be studied and understood not only as a product of her time, or through the canon of male writers who influenced her, but firmly on her own terms.
The papers in this symposium explore Wollstonecraft’s ideas both in relation to other female writers of the period and as providing valuable insights into issues of contemporary political relevance such as the nature of rights and the accommodation of cultural diversity.
The event brings together several of the speakers at the 220th anniversary of the publication of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, including Sandrine Berges, our first guest blogger. Also present a year ago at Mary Wollstonecraft: Philosophy and Enlightenment was Lena Halldenius, its organiser, who very kindly invited me to the official dinner, and Alan Coffee, the London philosopher whose interest in MW is matched only by his interest in Frederick Douglass (and thereby hangs a tale). Martina Reuter was at Lund as well, and Barbara Taylor and I shared the Woman's Hour hotseat two years ago. The speakers:

Sandrine Berges (Bilkent University): Wollstonecraft and Sophie de Grouchy
Alan Coffee (King’s College London): Diversity and the Virtuous Republic
Lena Halldenius (Lund University): Wollstonecraft and Representation
Susan James (Birkbeck College London): Wollstonecraft and Rights
Martina Reuter (Jyvaskyla University): Wollstonecraft’s Critique of Rousseau
Barbara Taylor (Queen Mary): Wollstonecraft and Modern Philosophy

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