Looking for texts by women in early modern europe?

Christine de Pisan

How about close to 200 of them? 

The series, The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe, first from the University of Chicago Press and, later, the University of Toronto Press, has published 194 texts or collections, the vast majority of which are by women.  Further, many, and perhaps all, are available as e-texts on Amazon.com for under $12.

You can find the series Introduction and Bibliography on links from this page.

The Introduction is profoundly disturbing.  It describes the attitudes toward women from the days of Aristotle onwards through the period of the series.  This is not a story of any progression.  Nonetheless, it does explain why so much of women’s writing at this time is devoted to arguing for women’s right to an education and her equality more generally.

8 thoughts on “Looking for texts by women in early modern europe?

  1. Wow, this is a terrific resource! Thanks for sharing it. I’d love to incorporate some of these works into my courses dealing with the thought of this period, but that is an extremely daunting list to approach. Does anyone have any suggestions for getting started? I’d be especially interested in teaching works from this series that deal with issues related to social contract thinking as well as issues of theodicy. Any suggestions would be very welcome.

  2. Occasional lurker, our spam filter has taken against your attempts to comment on this post. Usually it does that to friends when they put in links. I have no idea why it objected to your comment. Please use the “contact” tab to tell us if this persists.

    I happened upon the list because I saw a reference to one of the authors and wanted to track her down. So I am as much in the dark as you. I think I’d first read through the list quickly and see if any names appear familiar. Googling them could be a next step. Another thing would be to see what one can tell from titles and then check to look them up on amazon.com. I think you can look in the books for most of them.

    I suppose another approach would be to google topics and press names together.

    I suppose one could also write the editors. And the series bibliography might be a help.

  3. The series is great (and I say that not just because I am an editor of a volume in it).
    For those wanting more background on many of the 17th and 18th century authors I strongly recommend Eileen O’Neill’s “Disappearing Ink” for some sketches of their views (indeed anything by O’Neill is great!). For those wanting a background in the querelle des femmes that is the context in which many of the works from the 16th and 17th century is written, I recommend Joan Kelly’s “Early Feminist Theory and the querelle des femmes”. Erica Harth’s _Cartesian Women_ provides some background and substance for a subset of late 17th-mid 18th century thinkers. More recent monographs covering a range of women thinkers include John Conley, _The Suspicion of Virtue_ and Jackie Broad, _Women Philosophers of the 17th Century_.
    Gabrielle Suchon has some interesting thoughts about the social contract in her work. In particular, she develops a theory of will that resonates with a Rouseauian theory of the general will. The editor of that volume, Rebecca Wilkin (Pacific Lutheran, French), has a really interesting paper on Suchon and contemporary liberalism, though I don’t think it has been published.
    Earlier, Archangela Tarabotti has some polemical political views.
    Marcy Lascano (CSLB) has done a lot of work on the views of various women thinkers of the period about the existence of God, and she would know about theodicical positions as well. As a bit of advertising, Marcy and Eileen are co-edited a volume of scholarly essays of a range of women thinkers that will hopefully prove helpful to those wanting a way in.

  4. There are also resources on the press’s sites. Here’s a search engine for Italian Women Writers:
    I expect that some more search would reveal more such resources.

    Let me remind readers of the Orlando Project that was described in a few posts ealier than this one. It attempts to provide an account of ALL women writing in English.

  5. Lisa, thanks so much for the extremely helpful remarks. I hope they will make the series a bit more accessible to philosophers.

  6. The website Other Women’s Voices has brief biographies of many of those women (and their medieval and ancient counterparts, in Europe, the Near East and Asia!), limited bibliographies including printed translations, and links to a *ton* of online resources. That might give you a good place to start when looking for whom to integrate into philosophy classes.

  7. On thinking about this, I wonder if a section of many courses could be on something like arguments for being fully human. It could bring in very interesting issues that could be linked to issues of personal identity and issues about the Cartesian ego vs the embodied self.

    It might also gives students in philosophy a much fuller sense of what women’s exclusion has meant. That is, exclusion is surrounded by justifying views that do not vanish when women start to be admitted, deans decide diversity is a good thing, etc.

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