Anscombe, Foot, Midgley and Murdoch were undergraduates together at Oxford University during WWII.

The In Parenthesis reading group meet monthly to discuss their work, and we invite you to join our conversation by establishing your own satellite reading group, or through twitter (@parenthesis_in and using #InParenthesisRG) and by leaving comments on the website. We are seeking to understand the extent to which these women’s work can be viewed as a unified corpus, or a philosophical school. Key themes are: Human Nature; Ethics; Culture; Freedom. As the project unfolds we will enrich our understanding of how these themes are developed by these woman, individually and as a group.

Follow our suggested 9-week schedule to get started with your reading group.

Our reading group was for women — though yours need not be of course. An important part of our project is to interrogate Midgley’s suggestion women in Oxford thrived intellectually in the period under consideration because there were fewer men around due to the disruptions of World War II. Through our reading group we wanted to reflect on the kinds of dynamics and shared concerns, if any, that emerge through female intellectual endeavour and interaction.

Our women students ran their own reading group. Follow their alternative reading programme under ‘Curated Resources‘ on this site and read their testimony.

Want to take part?

  1. Form a group or participate as an individual.
  2. Email us, tweet us (@parenthesis_in using #InParenthesisRG), or leave a comment to let us know you’re joining in.
  3. Share comments and join the discussion through twitter (@parenthesis_in)
  4. We will happily publish longer pieces of writing on the website or add links to resources hosted elsewhere. Just drop us an email.

Frequently asked questions

  1. Do you have any guidelines as to how to conduct the meeting?
    • We took turns facilitating the meeting. The facilitator introduced the material and framed some discussion questions. Our aim was to find connections between the work of these women, so the facilitator should be helping to bring this out in the meeting. We also each ‘specialised’ in one of the women. So, the person specialising in Anscombe would pay particularly close attention to her work and hope to develop an expertise. However, you should run your group however works for you.
  2. How much reading will there be to do each month? What if it’s too much for us?
    • The schedule here contains two main articles or chapters each month. Sometimes we’ve provide some extra readings or background pieces. If it’s too much, you could choose one key text or divide the readings up between your members.
  3. How much time will you dedicate to the sessions?
    • We met for 2 hours followed by a drink in the pub.
  4. We plan to document our ‘findings’. What shall we do with them?
    • Leave comments on the reading group meeting pages of the website or tweet us using #InParenthesisRG. Send us an email and we’ll post it on the website. We’d also welcome suggestions for reading or topics for future meetings.