Intensive Seminar on Teaching New Narratives in Early Modern Philosophy
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In this intensive weeklong seminar, we will work through a range of primary source materials by non-canonical authors, both women and men, to be included in a new teaching anthology (edited by Shapiro and Lascano) with an eye to interpreting texts, identifying philosophical themes within those texts and devising creative ways to incorporate those texts into courses that can serve a range of purposes within the philosophical curriculum.
A familiarity with the standard early modern canon will be presupposed.
The intensive seminar responds to at least two issues facing the teaching of early modern philosophy. First, the familiar canon of seven philosophers (Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant) has become a bit ossified. While integrating the history of science into the history of early modern philosophy has helped to revitalize introduce some new figures into early modern philosophy, it continues to be challenging to address a second issue: we need to do a better job of incorporating women philosophers into the history of philosophy, and in particular into the history of early modern philosophy. To address these issues, and especially the second one, it helps to attend to an array of lesser known, yet still quite influential, philosophers of the period, both men and women.
Over the past several years interest in European women philosophers of the early modern period has intensified rapidly. Yet while there is a lot of interest, there are also many challenges. For one, it is often challenging to delve into texts with which one is unfamiliar, and without a body of philosophical secondary literature to serve as a guide. Equally, women of the period often write in an array of genres, further complicating the interpretive work. Furthermore, even if one has found one's way with these texts, women philosophers often take familiar themes in unfamiliar directions, and it can be a challenge to rethink the standard early modern philosophy course so as to include women thinkers as philosophers in their own right. Looking in detail not only at women thinkers but also at a range of non-canonical men is helpful because the themes that often engaged women thinkers were also of interest not only to other (men) non-canonical philosophers as well, but also to the more familiar canonical figures. In addition, it is worth noting that most of the philosophers of the period wrote in a variety of genres, not just the women.
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