Work/Cited is a program series that showcases the latest scholarship supported by the rich collections of The New York Public Library with a behind-the-scenes look at how the finished product was inspired, researched, and created.
In this episode, Regan Penaluna discussed the influential early feminist philosophers who have been written out of history, and her own experience of patriarchy and sexism in academia. Regan believed her pursuit of philosophy as an academician would be the first step toward becoming a self-determined person living a life of the mind. What she didn’t account for was the culture of misogyny and harassment surrounding the teaching of the Western philosophical canon in American universities. And where were the women philosophers? A discovery in an obscure monograph of the 17th-century philosopher Damaris Cudworth Masham set Penaluna on a path to discovering other remarkable women philosophers of the era: Mary Astell, Catharine Cockburn, and the better-known Mary Wollstonecraft. Together, these women rekindled Penaluna’s love of philosophy and awakened her feminist consciousness.
Penaluna spoke with the Library's Carolyn Vega about these four women, the subjects of her new book, How To Think Like a Woman, a blend of memoir, biography, and criticism that is an alternative history of philosophy as well as Penaluna's own search for love and truth.
Episode Recording and Transcript
A transcript of this episode is available here.
Below are some handy links to materials and sources suggested in the episode:
- Read How To Think Like a Woman by checking out a copy from NYPL, and connect with author Regan Penaluna at her website and on Twitter
- Learn more about the philosophical writings of Damaris Masham (1658–1708), Mary Astell (1666–1731), Catharine Cockburn (1979–1749) and Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797)
- Explore the lives and works of other marginalized individuals traditionally excluded from the philosophical canon at Project Vox
- Get involved with Extending New Narratives, an international partnership committed to retrieving philosophical works of women and individuals from other marginalized groups and sustaining the presence of these figures in the history of philosophy.
- Dig deeper in your research through the Library’s Articles & Databases: In this episode, we reviewed texts accessed via Early English Books Online, Eighteenth Century Collections Online and Literature Online, but the Library also provides access to more than 800 online resources including: Westchester County Archives; a directory of law firms around the world; Caribbean Newspapers (1718-1876); patent databases; South Asian American Digital Archive; Yad Vashem; Leftist Newspapers and Periodicals (1845-2015)
- Examine Mary Wollstonecraft’s original handwritten documents and find portraits of her, Catharine Cockburn, and John Locke through the Library's Digital Collections or by making an in-person research appointment through the Library’s Special Collections
- View more work by the contemporary Polish artist Ewa Juszkiewicz, whose 2019 painting “Untitled (after Elizabeth Vigee Le Brun)” is featured on the cover of Penaluna’s book
- Learn more about the Manhattan Research Library Initiative (MaRLI) as well as other resources available to researchers through the Center for Research in the Humanities
About the Work/Cited Series
Work/Cited is a program series that showcases the latest scholarship supported by the rich collections of The New York Public Library with a behind-the-scenes look at how the finished product was inspired, researched, and created. Catch up on previous episodes on the NYPL blog, where videos and links to related resources are posted shortly after each program. Sign up for NYPL's Research Newsletter or view the events calendar to hear about future programs as they are announced.