Throughout the month of March, the WPHP has been posting Spotlights about women philosophers in print in the WPHP as part of our Women & Philosophy Spotlight Series to celebrate Women’s History Month. Contributors to the series include research assistants Angela Wachowich, Belle Eist, Isabelle Burrows, Tammy T., and project director Michelle Levy, who wrote about the anonymous ‘Sophia, a Person of Quality,’ Margaret Cavendish, Harriet Martineau, Anna Letitia Barbauld, and Ann Williams.
Finding women philosophers in the WPHP is not necessarily a straightforward task: we don’t include philosophy as a genre, as research assistant Angela Wachowich, organizer of the Series, discovered during some of her work on early feminist writing last year. Turning to Lisa Shapiro’s New Narratives Bibliography of Works by Women Philosophers of the Past, Angela identified a number of women philosophers who we do, indeed, have in the WPHP—but that she had to use the New Narratives Bibliography to find them illustrates how the WPHP data model does not (and cannot) render visible every genre. It also, however, demonstrates how digital humanities projects from different disciplines can speak to each other.
And that is precisely what we did for this month’s episode: we invited Lisa Shapiro, director of the Extending New Narratives Partnership Project, to chat with us about women philosophers, the difficulty of genre, the narratives in entrenched canons (and the cross-disciplinary urge to name a canon), and the importance of discipline-specific recovery efforts.
Lisa Shapiro is Professor of Philosophy at Simon Fraser University. Her research is focused on accounts of human nature in the 17th century, along two general tracks. She has been interested in the place of the passions in accounts of the relations of human beings to the world around them, and their understanding of that world. She is currently the Principal Investigator of the SSHRC-funded Extending New Narratives Partnership Project, which aims to retrieve philosophical works of women and individuals from other marginalized groups and sustain the presence of these figures in the history of philosophy, and part of that project includes the New Narratives Bibliography of Works by Women Philosophers of the Past.
If you're interested in learning more about what we discussed in this episode, you can find resources and suggestions for further reading here: https://womensprinthistoryproject.com/blog/post/105