In this episode, Olivia speaks with Allauren Samantha Forbes, an assistant professor in philosophy and gender and social justice at McMaster University. We discuss the thought of the French philosopher and novelist Madeleine de Scudéry, who lived from 1607 to 1701. Though most historians of philosophy know Scudéry for her later philosophical dialogues, our conversation focuses on an earlier publication: 1642’s Illustrious Women or Heroic Harangues. Allauren argues that this collection of fictional speeches by real women from antiquity – all of whom are limited in some way by hierarchical power structures – is an educational philosophical text that articulates various manifestations of patriarchal power and exemplifies ways of subverting it. We also talk about ideas for teaching Scudéry and Allauren’s own background as a philosopher working in the history of feminism.
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Selected texts by Scudéry
Scudéry, Madeleine de. Les femmes illustres, ou Les harangues héroïques, 2 vols., Paris: Quiney et de Sercy, 1644. (French edition)
Scudéry, Madeleine de. Les femmes illustres or The heroick harangues of the illustrious women written in French by the exquisite pen of Monsieur de Scuddery governour of Nostre Dam. Translated by James Innes. Edinburgh: printed by Thomas Brown James Glen and John Weir book sellers, anno Adom. 1681. Available at http://name.umdl.umich.edu/A58878.0001.001. (17th-century partial English translation)
Scudéry, Madeleine de. Selected Letters, Orations, and Rhetorical Dialogues, edited and translated by Jane Donawerth and Julie Strongson. In The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004. (21st-century scholarly partial translation)
Early Modern Philosophy: An Anthology, edited by Lisa Shapiro and Marcy P. Lascano. Broadview Press, 2021. (Textbook that contains translated excerpts of some of Scudéry’s works)
Other texts mentioned
Astell, Mary. Some Reflections Upon Marriage, Occasion’d by the Duke & Duchess of Mazarine’s Case; which is also consider’d. London: Printed for John Nutt near Stationers-Hall, 1700.
King, Thomas. The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008.
Olivia Branscum is a PhD student in Philosophy at Columbia University. She is co-producer of the ENN New Voices podcast