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

The In Parenthesis reading group will 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.

Our reading group in Durham will be for women only — though yours need not be of course. We want to reflect on the dynamics and working practices of an all-women’s reading group. 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 all female reading group we are keen to reflect on the kinds of dynamics and shared concerns, if any, that emerge through all female intellectual endeavour and interaction.

The reading group will run for 18-months (from June 2016) in the first instance. We’re planning a conference in March 2017 and an exciting series of publications to follow. Details to come.


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 below to let us know you’re joining in.
  3. Read along with us and schedule meetings if you’re in a group.
  4. Share comments and join the discussion through twitter (@parenthesis_in) or in the comments section at the foot of each page. We’ll do the same.
  5. We will happily publish longer pieces of writing on the website or add links to resources hosted elsewhere. Just drop us an email.
  6. Look forward to meeting everyone face-to-face in Durham at our conference — dates and details to be announced soon!

Frequently asked questions

  1. Do you have any guidelines as to how to conduct the meeting?
    • We plan to take turns facilitating the meeting. The facilitator will introduce the material and frame some discussion questions. Our aim is to find connections between the work of these women, so the facilitator should be helping to bring this out in the meeting. We also plan to each ‘specialise’ 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?
    • We’ll aim for two main articles or chapters each month. We’ll also 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 are meeting for 2 hours followed by a drink in the pub.
  4. We shall 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.  


We are funded by a British Academy Small Research Grant.