Enlightened Exchanges

Term: Fall 2012

Subject Code: GLIB

Course Number: 5829

This course reads recently recovered published and private conversations between male and female thinkers that shed new light on women's participation in Enlightenment. We study the theological correspondence among Anna Maria van Schurman, Gisbertus Voetius, Andre Rivet, Jean Labbadie, and Bathsua Makin; Gabrielle Suchon's affinity for Spinoza, the philosophical interplay of Rene Descartes and Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia; Marie le Jars de Gournay's complex response to Michel de Montaigne; Marie Madeleine Jodin's political education in Diderot's library; the personal and intellectual communications between Damaris Cudworth and John Locke; Emile du Chatelet and Voltaire; Margaret Cavendish and Frances Bacon; John Milton and Lucy Hutchinson. We consider women's idiosyncratic use of the Classical tradition in their engagement with canonical ideas, their reactions to each other, the new knowledge they produced, and the volatile public reception to "the equality of the sexes." We review contemporaneous and modern analyses of Poullain de la Barre's Cartesian argument that "the mind has no sex" as a litmus test of the current diffusion of female intellectuals' works and reputations.

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