Feminist Philosophers

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Margaret Whitford July 22, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jender @ 7:08 am

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our friend and colleague Professor Margaret Whitford who died on18 July, aged 64, from ovarian cancer, after a long illness which she faced with great honesty and courage.

Margaret Whitford was a key founder member of the UK Society for Women in Philosophy. Her energy and vision was pivotal to maintaining the group as it grew. For many years she co-edited the Women in Philosophy Newsletter which later became the Women’s Philosophy Review. Her editorship lasted from Issue 2 (1990) until 1997 when she became Books Review Editor, a position that she held until 2001.

Margaret Whitford’s early work Merleau-Ponty’s Critique of Sartre’s Philosophy remains a standard text. However, she is best known for bringing to prominence in the English- speaking world the work of French philosopher Luce Irigaray. She edited The Irigaray Reader (1991) and, together with Carolyn Burke and Naomi Schor, she co-edited Engaging with Irigaray (1994). Her important monograph Luce Irigaray: Philosophy in the Feminine came out in 1991, and provided an entry point for readers into Irigaray’s work, whilst also rescuing that work from charges of essentialism and reductionism.

Margaret Whitford with Morwenna Griffiths co-edited the first book of papers to come out of UK feminist philosophy, Feminist Perspectives in Philosophy (1988). Later with Kathleen Lennon, she co-edited the first British collection on feminism epistemology, Knowing the Difference. Her work intertwined French Philosophy, feminism and psychoanalysis in a way that provided an opening for much of the work in feminist philosophy and feminist theory that followed. She always displayed a willingness to engage with, rather than close off from, different factions within academia. She qualified as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist at the Lincoln Clinic and Centre for Psychotherapy, London and, on retirement from her post as Professor of French at Queen Mary, University of London, took on a number of private patients as well as continuing with her translation work. She continued to be vigorously interested in life generally and ideas in particular until the very last days of her life.

Margaret was unstinting in her help and encouragement to younger colleagues. She was loyal and generous to her friends, entertaining them with rigorous discussions, her anarchic sense of humour, and sharing with them outings to art exhibitions, as well as her passion for and knowledge of contemporary art. One always left her company with fresh insights.

She will be very badly missed.

Alison Assiter, Christine Battersby, Morwenna Griffiths, Kathleen Lennon, Anne Seller

 

5 Responses to “Margaret Whitford”

  1. Common Observer Says:

    I recently bought her book on Irigaray. She wrote very well and explains the issues surrounding Irigaray’s thought extremely well. I’m sorry for your loss.

    best,

    A Dude.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I will sadly miss her.
    Nicole VERAT-PANT

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I am so deeply sad to hear this news. Margaret Whitford was my PhD supervisor and she was one of the most intelligent, supportive and original people I have met. She had a great impact on my intellectual life, was the most rigorous lucid thinker committed to the life of ideas and to feminism and her work is profoundly significant with regard to the development of feminist theory and philosophy in the UK. I feel very lucky to have had such a generative relationship with her. I will miss her greatly.
    Amber Jacobs

  4. [...] It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our friend and colleague Professor Margaret Whitford who died on18 July, aged 64, from ovarian cancer, after a long illness which she faced with great honesty and courage. Margaret Whitford was a key founder member of the UK Society for Women in Philosophy. Her energy and vision was pivotal to maintaining the group as it grew. For many years she co-edited the Women in Philosophy Newsletter wh … Read More [...]

  5. steve rashid Says:

    i would also like to say a few words in remembrance of Margaret who was my tutor at Queen Mary college, London, We spent countless hours in philosophical discussion. Someone has already said that she was the most lucid of thinkers and I want to express the same. Her insights, perspicacity, acute intelligence and analytic gifts left me stunned. Margaret was inspirational in my post university life and has been a source of hope during my most difficult moments as I matured. i doubt i would have ever been so challenged in the field of feminism and philosophical thought. In short, Margaret shaped my thinking and my life. She was also one of the kindest, most flexible and understanding persons i have ever known. My life would have taken a different course had it not been for her though she would challenge me on this assertion!
    I have only read this evening that Margaret died and I am deeply, deeply saddened by this news.


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