Topic: Women

Some reflections on Stereotype Threat

by Ana Barandalla I first became acquainted with the concept of Stereotype Threat (ST) through one of Jenny Saul’s earlier versions of her paper ‘Implicit Bias, Stereotype Threat, and Women in Philosophy’.⁠[i] It felt liberating. The cognitive, emotional, and physiological manifestations of ST are things with which I was very familiar, and although I often felt that I could sense it in others, it was never discussed. What would you say? ‘I sometimes think that maybe (whisper – in being a woman) I’m not good enough for this’?[ii] For a start, you do not – DO NOT – want...

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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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Sebastian Sanchez-Schilling heads to Newnham College Archives…

During the Easter holidays, I was lucky enough to visit the Newnham College Archives. After attending the (In Parenthesis) film screening and the subsequent talk by Mary Midgley, I felt compelled to take part in the project and aid it whatever way I could. I live in Cambridge so I thought my proximity to the colleges would be of help. Dr. Wiseman took me up on my offer and directed me towards Newnham College – mentioning some of the findings that Dr. Sophia Connell had presented at the workshop hosted after the film screening. Anne Thompson, the College Archivist,...

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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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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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Pamela Sue Anderson: ‘Silencing and Speaker Vulnerability: Undoing an oppressive form of (wilful) ignorance

Presented at International Women’s Day Conference Durham University, UK 8 March 2016 Silencing and Speaker Vulnerability: Undoing an oppressive form of (wilful) ignorance Pamela Sue Anderson 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 of vulnerability into a distinctively ethical avowal. To see the significance of this undoing, we will consider how our contemporary global world reduces vulnerability to an openness to violence, ignoring what has been unthought: an openness to affection. A wilful ignorance of vulnerability develops not as a lack of...

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Our first Cocoa Party! – 26th October 2015 – Durham University

The In Parenthesis Group hosted our first Cocoa Party for women philosophers this week in the Fellow’s Lounge of the Institute of Advanced Study at Durham University. A group of women philosophers which included lecturers, readers, PhD students, research fellows, teaching fellows and a publisher met over mugs of hot cocoa and brandy. We are following the tradition of cocoa parties for young woman students in British Universities at times when women were not allowed to mix with men or leave their colleges without chaperones. These parties afforded young women an opportunity to socialise but also to talk about their university work. One of the aims of the In Parenthesis project is to find out more about women’s cocoa parties and the role they played in young women’s university life, particularly in the context of women studying philosophy at Oxford during wartime. These all women’s spaces were significant for sharing ideas and creating a philosophical community outside of the formal classroom. We will be hosting cocoa parties each term in Durham, get in touch and let us know if you host your...

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