Rachael Wiseman

Speaker Vulnerability and the Patriarchal University. By Lara Coleman

A Response and Tribute to Pamela Sue Anderson I never quite crossed paths with Pamela Sue Anderson. She returned to Oxford in 2001 to take up a post at my former college the year after I finished my undergraduate studies.[1]  In February 2017, we were both invited to speak at a British Academy conference on Vulnerability and The Politics of Care. Anderson’s paper was read by a friend, just weeks before her death. All of us spoke about vulnerability, but Anderson’s contribution stood out in that she addressed our own vulnerability as speakers. She began by recounting an occasion,...

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Amber, Anna, and Annie at the Iris Murdoch Society conference

We’ve just been at the brilliant Iris Murdoch Society Annual Conference. We are so proud of our wonderful women students, Amber, Anna and Annie, who shared their experience and wisdom in the In Parenthesis panel. The audience of academics and Murdoch scholars were so interested in their reflections and had so many questions that I didn’t get time to give my presentation! Feeling very lucky to have met and learned from such inspiring young...

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Our Cocoa Parties: A Brief Reflection by Annie McCallian

Annie McCallian, our student research assistant, reflects on the Durham reading group In November 2016, as part of the In Parenthesis project’s aim to uncover the intellectual conditions of the wartime group, several close friends and I endeavoured to establish a women and gender non-binary undergraduate reading group. We gathered together once a fortnight in a small Philosophy common room – united by ideas and cocoa – for discussions that explored selected abstracts from texts by the wartime group. This is our brief reflection. Our very first session was spent getting to know one another and reflecting on our experiences as fellow undergraduates. The topics of discussion ranged from imposter syndrome, to – what Collin McGinn had called – the “cut and thrust of philosophical debate”. What emerged prominently during this session was a shared feeling of isolation and intimidation with regard to the academic discipline of philosophy. Unsurprisingly, it appeared to us that this “cut and thrust” signalled an occasion to be spoken over, shouted down and – in some way – had perhaps contributed to our shared desire to distance ourselves from the discipline. One pervasive way in which this desire had manifested itself was in a reluctance to converse in tutorials – for fear of saying something ‘stupid’. As such, our reading group was always conscientious to create an environment that would combat this fear. As...

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Testimony: Lesley Jamieson, PhD Candidate, Queen’s University Kingston

Inspired by In Parenthesis, our own research group has spent our last few sessions examining some essays by Anscombe and Murdoch. I have found seeing these philosophers as part of a distinct school of thought very helpful to understanding their work individually. The thematic similarities are so striking! Even Anscombe’s complaint about the shallowness of Sidgwick on humility in “Modern Moral Philosophy” is echoed by Murdoch in The Sovereignty of Good when she writes that some philosophers think that humility is “a peculiar habit of self-effacement, rather like having an inaudible voice”. Lesley Jamieson, PhD Candidate, Queen’s University in...

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Reading schedule & tips

– written by Annie McCallion The texts set here, as well as their subsequent questions are intended to serve as a guide for organisers of the group. For each section I have provided set texts; this is in addition to texts which are recommended for the organiser of the group to read – prior to holding the discussion. To accompany these texts, there are a selection of at least 7 questions provided per session. If each session is set to run for an hour long, it is unlikely that you will be able to make it through all of them; the selection is provided in order to enable to organiser of the group to select those most appropriate questions, relative to how they see the discussion going. As stipulated above, these are intended only as guidelines; I have interpreted the respective texts and directed the questions to areas which I know members of my group prefer to discuss. You are of course at liberty to do the same. The sequence of texts laid out here, attempts to create a linear chain of progression throughout the 8 sessions. I have linked them together as best I can, attempting to give the most seamless transition to each session. The texts should be fairly easy to locate, however I have available full PDF versions of all the texts listed; if there is...

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What influence did Wittgenstein and Aquinas have on Anscombe and Foot? by Samuel Cooper

Both Foot and Anscombe talk about Aquinas quite often, and both of them seem to take it for granted that Aquinas’ thought can be elucidated by thinking about it from directions provided by Wittgenstein; not just that Aquinas can be corrected or improved by the addition of a Wittgensteinian perspective, but rather that what Aquinas himself actually thought can be elucidated by looking at his work from such an angle. Both of them do this quite often, sometimes implicitly and sometimes explicit, but almost always very casually, as if it is quite obvious that this is how it should be. But in what sense in Aquinas Wittgensteinian?!

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Philippa Foot ‘Sir’ letter

Photo of Certificate, Photo of letter, Guidance Qs (t. b. w) In May 1983, Philippa Foot was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was sent a rather grand certificate (click to enlarge) informing her of the honor. As you may notice, the certificate is addressed: ‘Sir’. In 1983! Foot wrote this wonderful letter to the AAAS in...

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ABC Philosophy Zone

Link to external website – summary (tbw) Listen to Dr Mary Midgley and Dr Rachael Wiseman discussing ‘The Golden Age of Female Philosophy’, and its relevant for discussions about women in philosophy today, with Fiona Jenkins on ABC Radio’s The Philosopher’s Zone....

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Silencing and Speaker Vulnerability: Undoing an oppressive form of (wilful) ignorance

 by Pamela Sue Anderson Essay, Photo, Guidance Qs (t.b.w.) Pamela wrote this paper for our International Women’s Day Conference 2016 [link], Resounding Voices: Women, Silence and the Production of Knowledge. It is with her permission that we publish the full script here. Tragically, Pamela passed away in March 2017. Her beautiful paper offers a way of conceptualising what we are, or should conceive ourselves as, (collectively) doing  as philosophers: cultivating reciprocal relations to the unknown. ABSTRACT The French feminist philosopher, Michèle Le Doeuff, has taught us something about ‘the collectivity’, which she discovers in women’s struggle for access to the philosophical, but also about ‘the unknown’ and ‘the unthought’ (Le Doeuff 1989, 128). It is the unthought, which will matter most to what I intend to say today about a fundamental ignorance, on which speaker vulnerability is built. On International Women’s Day, it seems appropriate to speak about – or, at least, to evoke – the silencing which has been imposed on women by an oppressive form of ignorance. My question is: how do our resounding voices as women – on 8 March 2016 – avoid what feminist philosophers have distinguished as wilful forms of silencing? Silencing exploits vulnerability; and speaker vulnerability is an exposure to either violence or affection, in its dependence on an audience. My response seeks to undo the silencing of women by transforming an ignorance...

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Then and Now

by Mary Midgley Mary Midgley Considers How What Is Called Philosophy Has Changed Since She And Her Friends First Plunged Into It Changes In World-Pictures. When we four people started studying Philosophy at Oxford in the early 1940s, quite a lot of the topics that we might have expected to discuss – most importantly, Human Nature, the Spiritual Life and the Behaviour of non-human Animals – simply could not be mentioned in philosophical circles at all. First, Behaviourists had shown that there was `no such thing as Human Nature’. All behaviour was simply reactive – produced by other behaviour. Next, Animal behaviour was part of Zoology. A few Comparative Psychologists were studying the differences between human and animal thought. but this chiefly meant showing that animals can’t do certain things which humans can. And finally, as for the Spiritual Life, religious concepts were being studied on their own as separate topics by people who were not necessarily interested in their importance, or keen to relate them to other aspects of life. Thus the only mental heritage that was deemed to be common to the whole human race was Rationality, which was seen as its central legacy from the Enlightenment. More sweepingly still, however, even that legacy was then being fiercely attacked by a miscellaneous group of theorists – ranging from Right to Left, from Behaviourists through Existentialists to Marxists –...

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We’re in the wonderful Hannah Directory!

Hannah Directory highlights people and organisations doing great things in places in the north of England. It’s named after Hannah Mitchell (1872–1956), an inspiring suffragette and rebel!   PRESS RELEASE Celebrating the hidden gems of The North’s arts and innovation Durham University Philosophy Department’s Women In Parenthesis has been selected as one of the hidden gems of the north by the fifth edition of Hannah Directory, which launches during the week of June 12 – 17. Hannah Directory highlights people and organisations doing great things in places in the north of England. Andrew Wilson, who coordinates the directory, says “Hannah Directory...

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Iris Murdoch lifeline

Jean Iris Murdoch (1919-1999)   1919       15 July: Born in Phibsborough, Ireland, to Irene Alice and Wills John Hughes Murdoch.   1925       Entered the Froebel Demonstration School, Roehampton.   1932       Joined Badminton School, Bristol, where she boarded until 1938.   1938       Attended university at Somerville College, Oxford, where she studied Classics. She graduated in 1942 with first-class honours. —-         Joined the Communist Party of Great Britain, but left in 1942.   1943       January: Publication of “Midnight Hour,” Adelphi, pp.60-1.[1] —-         July: Publication of “Rebirth of Christianity,” Adelphi, pp.134-5.[2]   1944       June: Went to work for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). —-         July: Publication of “Worship and Common Life,” Adelphi, pp.134-5.[3]   1946       Left the UNNRA.   1947       Began studying philosophy as a postgraduate at Newnham College, Cambridge. She was awarded the Sarah Smithson Studentship in Philosophy.   1948       Became a fellow of St. Anne’s College, Oxford, where she taught philosophy until 1963.   1950       March: Publication of “The Novelist as Metaphysician,” Listener, 43, pp.473-6; and, “The Existentialist Hero,” Listener,43, pp.523-4. —-         April: Publication of a review of The Ethics of Ambiguity, by Simone de Beauvoir, Mind, 59, pp.127-8; and a review of The Emotions: The Outline of a Theory, by Jean-Paul Sartre, Mind,59, pp.268-71.   1951       July: Publication of “Symposium: Thinking and Language” (with A. C. Lloyd and Gilbert Ryle), Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume,25 (1),...

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Philippa Foot lifeline

Philippa Ruth Foot (1920-2010)   1920       3 October: Born to Esther Cleveland and Captain William Sidney Bence Bosanquet.   1939       Studied PPE at Somerville College, Oxford. She graduated in 1942, with first-class honours.   1945       Married the historian, Michael Richard Daniell Foot.   1947       Became a lecturer, at Somerville College. She remained there until 1950.   1949       Became Somerville College’s first philosophy Tutorial Fellow.[1]   1952       October: Publication of “The Philosopher’s Defence of Morality,” Philosophy, 27 (103), pp.311-28.   1954       Publication of “Symposium: When Is a Principle a Moral Principle?” (with Jonathan Harrison), Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes, 28, pp.95-134. —-         April: Publication of a review of The Interpretation of Plato’s Republic, by N. R. Murphy, Mind, 63 (250), pp.270-4.   1957       April: Publication of a review of Godwin’s Moral Philosophy, by D. H. Monro, Mind, 66, (262), pp.279-80. —-         October: Publication of “Free Will As Involving Determinism,” The Philosophical Review, 66 (4), pp.439-50.   1958       Publication of “Moral Beliefs,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 59, pp.83-104.[2] —-         October: Publication of “Moral Arguments,” Mind, 67 (268), pp.502-13.   [Note: at some point in the 1960’s (possibly the late 1960’s), Foot and Iris Murdoch supposedly had a brief affair. They communicated extensively throughout their lifetimes via letters, which are now owned by Kingston University’s Centre for Iris Murdoch Studies]   1960       Divorced.   1961       Publication of “Symposium: Goodness...

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Mary Midgley lifeline

Mary Beatrice Midgley (1919-   1919       13 September: Born in London to Lesley and Tom Scrutton.   1937       Took the Oxford University entrance exam, and was awarded a place at Somerville College, studying Classics, alongside Iris Murdoch. Midgley went on to graduate with first-class honours.   1942       Left Oxford and went into the civil service.   1947       Returned to Oxford to do graduate work with Gilbert Murray, and in particular, began to do research on Plotinus’ view of the soul.   1949       Began teaching in the philosophy department of Reading University, where she remained for four terms.   1950       Married Geoffrey Midgley, who was also a philosopher.   1952       March: Publication of “The Emancipation of Women,” The Twentieth Century,152 (901), pp.217-25. —-         July: Publication of “Bishop Butler: A reply,” The Twentieth Century, 152 (905)   1959       February: Publication of “Ou Sont les Neiges de ma Tante,” The Twentieth Century, pp.168-79.   1962       Began teaching in the philosophy department of Newcastle University, where she held her post until 1980.   1972       July: Publication of “Is ‘Moral’ a Dirty Word?” Philosophy, 47 (181), pp.206-28.   1973       Publication of “The Concept of Beastliness: Philosophy, Ethics and Animal Behaviour,” Philosophy,48, pp.111-35.   1974       Publication of “XII—The Neutrality of the Moral Philosopher,” Supplementary Volume of the Aristotelian Society, pp.211-29. —-         July: Publication of “The Game Game,” Philosophy, 49 (189), pp.231-53.   1977       December:...

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Elizabeth Anscombe lifeline

Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe (1919-2001) 1919       18 March: Born to Gertrude Elizabeth Anscombe and Allen Wells Anscombe, in Limerick, Ireland.   1937       Graduated from Sydenham High School. From there, she went on to St. Hugh’s College, Oxford where she studied Classics and Philosophy. She graduated in 1941 with first-class honours. 1939       Publication of the pamphlet “The Justice of the Present War Examined. A criticism based on traditional Catholic principles and on natural reason” (with Norman Daniel). 1941       Married philosopher Peter Geach, with whom she has seven children. 1942       Became a Research Fellow at Newnham College, Cambridge (until 1945). 1946       Offered a Research Fellowship at Somerville College, Oxford. 1948       Publication of ‘A Reply to Mr. C. S. Lewis’s Argument that “Naturalism” is Self-Refuting,” The Socratic Digest, 4. 1950       Publication of “The Reality of the Past” in Philosophical Analysis: A Collection of Essays, Max Black (ed), (New York: Cornell University Press).   1953       October: Publication of “Note on the English Version of Wittgenstein’s Philosophiche Untersuchungen,” Mind, 62 (248), pp.521-2. —-         Publication of “Symposium: The Principle of Individuation” (with Jan Lukasiewicz and Karl Popper), Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes, 27, pp.69-120. —-         Publication of her translated, and edited (with Rush Rhees) Philosophical Investigations, by Ludwig Wittgenstein, (Oxford: Blackwell). 1954       Publication of her translated and edited (with Peter Geach) Descartes: Philosophical Writings, (London: Nelson). —-         April: Publication of “Misinformation: What Wittgenstein...

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A “world of women” on International Women’s Day!

Thanks to everyone who came to our International Women’s Day conference yesterday! And of course special thanks to everyone who presented their work. It was a wonderful celebration of women’s work inside and outside the academy and a little glimpse into what the University might look like in a ‘world of women’ Back from Oxford. A world of women. I reflected, talking with Mary, Pip and Elizabeth, how much I love them. (Murdoch’s journal: 12 June...

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British Philosophy in 1957

1957 saw the publication of Anscombe’s Intention, Geach’s Mental Acts and O’Shaughnessy’s landmark essay, ‘The Location of Sound’. Also published that year were Hamlyn’s The Psychology of Perception and Popper’s The Poverty of Historicism. In the following two years Foot’s essays ‘Moral Beliefs’ and ‘Moral Arguments’ were published, along with Strawson’s Individuals and Anscombe’s ‘Modern Moral Philosophy’. We are collecting a list of the most important publications in British philosophy in the second half of the 1950s and would be grateful for your help. If you have suggestions for our collection please email them to us or tweet them...

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IWD 2017: Unsettling the Myths we Live By – Don’t miss our CFP deadline 12.12.16

Don’t forget to send us your abstracts by noon Monday 12th December. Proposal for 20 minute papers should be sent to: resoundingvoicesdurham@gmail.com in the form of 300 word abstracts. Please prepare your abstract for anonymous review. We’ll aim to get back to within 10 days. We welcome abstracts from those working in any discipline and encourage submissions from postgraduate researchers. — International Women’s Day Conference 2017 Wednesday, 8th March 2017 St. Aidan’s College, Durham University UNSETTLING THE MYTHS WE LIVE BY: FEMINIST PERSPECTIVES ON HUMAN NATURE, CULTURE AND FREEDOM. The image of the enlightenment subject and the hero of the...

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IWD 2017: Unsettling the Myths we Live By: Feminist Perspectives on Human Nature, Culture and Freedom

We are really excited to announce the theme for our 2017 International Women’s Day Conference. Those of you who joined us last year will know what a wonderfully productive and inspiring celebration this day is. So, save the date, look out for announcements about registration and send us an abstract.  Details will be posted on the website here as we have them. See you in March! International Women’s Day Conference 2017 Wednesday, 8th March 2017 St. Aidan’s College, Durham University UNSETTLING THE MYTHS WE LIVE BY: FEMINIST PERSPECTIVES ON HUMAN NATURE, CULTURE AND FREEDOM. The image of the enlightenment subject and the hero of the modern novel is that of a brave young man: “he is free, independent, lonely, rational, responsible, brave … the offspring of the age of science, confidently rational and yet increasingly aware of his own alienation from the material universe that his discoveries reveal.” (Murdoch, The Sovereignty of the Good) This conference seeks to unsettle this myth of enlightenment man and to use feminist perspectives to explore alternative conceptions of human nature, culture and freedom. What does an account of the human subject, which takes seriously women’s lived experience, look like? This conference explores this question under three broad themes: Human Nature, Culture, and Freedom. We invite abstracts from any discipline or perspective that address themes related to the following, or related, topics and questions:...

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Women in the History of Philosophy conference

University of Cambridge’s fantastic Women in Philosophy group are hosting a conference on 9th June, with talks covering women throughout the history of philosophy. We’ll be there talking about ‘The Golden Age of Female Philosophy’. The other speakers and their topics, along with registration details, can be found here:...

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Join our reading group!

We’re starting a reading group — join us! Anscombe, Foot, Midgley and Murdoch were undergraduates together at Oxford University during WWII. Each month we’ll set readings by these remarkable women, and discuss them. We invite you to join our conversation by establishing your own satellite reading group, or through twitter (@parenthesis_in) and by leaving comments on the website. The first set of introductory readings are now available and discussion is open! Find out more and join in...

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IWD photos now available

Rachel and Ilana were at our conference taking wonderful photos all day. We’ve published a selection on our website — please feel free to browse, download and share. We’re planning to print our favourites and put them up around the department! Follow this...

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Midgley keynote: Silence about Silence

Our International Women’s Day conference is just 2 days away. We’re really excited. Over 90 people have registered to join us, so it should be a wonderful celebration of women’s voices. Just to remind you, we have three amazing keynotes (along with 8 panel sessions). The keynotes are: Pamela Sue Anderson, Oxford University. ‘Silencing and Speaker Vulnerability: Undoing an oppressive form of (Wilful) Ignorance’ Mary Midgley, ‘Silence about Silence’ Katharine Cockin, University of Hull. ‘Hearing What They Had to Say: Voice, Silence, and Reading between the Lines of Women’s Suffrage Performance’ It’s not too late to register, but we are reaching capacity so don’t delay! See you Tuesday, Rachael, Luna, and...

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Publishing advice slots with Bloomsbury almost full!

Liza Thompson, Senior Commissioning Editor at Bloomsbury, will be offering publishing advice at the IWD conference. When you register for the conference, you can also book an appointment to discuss a proposal, and idea, or a question. However, do it soon! She’s almost fully booked already...

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Registration for IWD conference opens on Monday 8 February

We are finalising a fantastic programme for our Resounding Voices conference on March 8th 2016. We have three amazing keynotes — Mary Midgley, Katharine Cockin, and Pamela Sue Anderson — and over 25 other speakers running across three parallel sessions. We’ll be announcing the full programme and opening registration here on Monday 8 February. We can’t wait to see you...

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Third Keynote: Mary Midgley

We are so excited to confirm that Mary Midgley will join us at our International Women’s Day conference. Midgley was part of an extraordinary group of women at Oxford University in the 1930s. The prominence of Midgley, Philippa Foot, Iris Murdoch, Elizabeth Anscombe, and Mary Warnock have led to the 1930s-50s being called the ‘Golden Age of Female Philosophy’. She has written extensively on ethics, human nature, feminism, and...

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Interview with Mary Warnock

Last week Liza, Clare and I went along with Lindsay (our film-crew!), to interview Mary Warnock at her London home. We’ll be posting some sound-extracts from the interview here in the coming weeks (along with some from our Mary Midgley interview). Here are some photos to get you in the mood.   It’s going to take us a little bit of time to edit the footage. Mary was incredibly generous with her time — we were there for three hours. But the plan is to make both this interview, and our recent interview with Mary Midgley, available for researchers and students as soon as...

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Second keynote: Professor Pamela Sue Anderson

We are ready to announce our second fantastic keynote for our International Women’s Day conference: Resounding Voices. Professor Anderson, from University of Oxford will be joining us to speak on themes connected to her work on gender, confidence, and education. Further details to...

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Interview with Mary Midgley

Clare, Luna, and I went along to interview Mary Midgley today at her home in Newcastle. We spent an incredible 90 minutes learning about life in Oxford during the 1930s and 40s, and hearing her thoughts on the contemporary lot of women in academia. I was especially struck by her comment that one of the reasons Iris Murdoch left the academy was that she didn’t think she could do philosophy well — how many other women have felt the same? We have footage of the interview and will upload some audio-highlights over the next few weeks....

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Interview with Mary Midgley

Mary Midgley has generously offered us her time on Monday, so we’re off to interview her about the Golden Age of female philosophy! We’ve got our own list of questions, but if there’s anything you think we should ask her do leave a comment or drop us a note. We’re taking a fanstastic filmmaker with us so we should be able to share the interview with you all at a later...

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First Keynote: Professor Katharine Cockin

We’re excited to announce our first keynote speaker for our Re-Sounding Voices conference. Katharine Cockin is Professor of English at Hull University. She’ll be speaking about A Pageant of Great Women, a women’s suffrage play directed by Edith Craig and performed all over Britain in 1909-12. Performances included 50-90 local women’s suffrage activists taking the roles of ‘great women’, brought onto the stage in silence as visible evidence of women’s achievements in the past. More keynote announcements to...

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Call for Papers: Interdisciplinary International Women’s Day Conference, Durham University, 8 March 2016

Re-Sounding Voices: Women, Silence and the Production of Knowledge The celebrated history of the sciences and arts is dominated by the voices of great men, whereas the voices of women have often been marginalised. While much has been done to redress this imbalance, the sound of women’s voices is still not as prevalent as that of their male colleagues and counterparts. Not only does a male-dominated canon risk the erasure of the contributions made by women, it perpetuates gender injustice—a teaching syllabus populated by men deprives young women aspirants of role models and sends them a clear message: this is not for you. A history of silenced women contributes to the silencing of women now and in the future. How can we break out of this oppressive cycle? This conference explores this question under four broad themes: silencing; women in parenthesis; covert contributions; and identity and disavowal. We invite abstracts from any discipline or perspective that address themes related to any of the following topics and questions: Silencing: what are the mechanisms through which women’s voices are silenced and their contributions and ideas erased or distorted? Do these mechanisms differ across subject area and period? How do the (putatively) self-reflexive norms and practices of academic disciplines perpetuate failures to see and appreciate the exclusion of women? Once we understand silencing and its effects, how should we respond, as historians,...

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International Women’s day Conference @ Durham

Save the date! We’re excited! We’re organising a conference for International Women’s Day (March 8th, 2016) on the theme of ‘Re-Sounding Voices: Women, Silence and the Production of Knowledge‘. It will be a chance for us to share what we’ve learned about our women, and also to explore some of the broader In Parenthesis themes. There’ll be a cocoa party too! CFP and keynote announcements to follow soon …. Do contact us if you can’t...

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Meeting Mary Warnock in the House of Lords

Liza and I were down in London on Thursday to meet with Mary Warnock. Baroness Warnock has recently retired from the House of Lords, but we met her there to talk about In Parenthesis and to find out what she could remember about Oxford during the war and afterwards. Two hours later, we realized that it would be selfish to keep those reminiscences to ourselves, so we’re arranging another trip with a film crew next month …                         If you can’t wait, you can listen to Mary Warnock being interviewed in 1988 for Desert Island Disks, and more recently for Meeting Myself Coming Back. Her memoir, People and Places, also contains fascinating portraits of Murdoch, Anscombe, and...

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