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Early Anglo Feminism

ENGL 016.303
TR 3-4:30


It is no accident that early modern feminism arose at the same time that empirical science did, and this course will
chart their relation. At a time when objectivity was being invented, writers and philosophers became interested in a
set of questions about sex and gender very similar to those we ask today. Are men and women fundamentally different?
Does each have its own way of knowing? Is female learning possible, and do women need their own centers of learning?
While we will read widely in early feminism, we will also read the work of two women closely: Margaret Cavendish and
Mary Astell. These two women blazed a trail a 100 years before Mary Wollstonecraft and 200 years before Virginia
Woolf; yet you'll find their writing to be as fresh and relevant today as it was then - perphaps even more so. We will
engage as well with many contemporary philosophers amd scientists, focusing on reactions to this early feminist rise in
conscience. There will be two papers and some short research assignments.