1st Edition

The Wives of Western Philosophy Gender Politics in Intellectual Labor

Edited By Jennifer Forestal, Menaka Philips Copyright 2021
    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    216 Pages
    by Routledge

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    The Wives of Western Philosophy examines the lives and experiences of the wives and women associated with nine distinct political thinkers—from Socrates to Marx—in order to explore the gendered patterns of intellectual labor that permeate the foundations of Western political thought.

    Organized chronologically and representative of three eras in the history of political thought (Ancient, Early Modern, and Modern), nine critical biographical chapters explore the everyday acts of intellectual labor and partnership involving these "wives of the canon." Taking seriously their narratives as intimate partners reveals that wives have labored in remarkable ways throughout the history of political thought. In some cases, their labors mark the conceptual boundaries of political life; in others, they serve as uncredited resources for the production of political ideas. In all instances, however, these wives and intimates are pushed to the margins of the history of political thought.

    The Wives of Western Philosophy brings these women to the center of scholarly interest. In so doing, it provides new insights into the intellectual biographies of some of the most famed men in political theory while also raising important questions about the gendered politics of intellectual labor which shape our receptions of canonical texts and thinkers, and which sustain the academy even today.

    1. Married to the Canon: Writing the History of Western Philosophy

    Jennifer Forestal and Menaka Philips

    2. Xanthippe: Shrew or Muse

    Arlene Saxonhouse

    3. Self-Sacrifice as Wifely Virtue in Aristotle’s Political Theory

    Sara Brill

    4. Authoring Machiavelli: Barbera Salutati, La Mandragola, and the Performance of Political Theory

    Boris Litvin

    5. Educating Gentlewomen: The Women of Locke’s Circle and Their Influence on Some Thoughts Concerning Education

    Emily C. Nacol

    6. Jeanne de Lartigue, Madame de Montesquieu: Calvinist Refugee and Wife of an Enlightenment Philosopher

    Bryan A. Banks

    7. Thérèse Levasseur’s Improvised Life with Rousseau

    Jennifer M. Jones

    8. The Hidden Labors of Mary Mottley, Madame de Tocqueville

    Ross Carroll

    9. The "Beloved and Deplored" Memory of Harriet Taylor Mill: Rethinking Gender and Intellectual Labor in the Canon

    Menaka Philips

    10. "Mere Auxiliaries to the Movement": How Intellectual Biography Obscures Marx’s and Engels’s Gendered Political Partnerships

    Terrell Carver

    11. The Future of Intellectual Labor

    Jennifer Forestal and Menaka Philips


    Jennifer Forestal is Helen Houlahan Rigali Assistant Professor of Political Science at Loyola University Chicago. Her research examines contemporary democratic practices, with a focus on the effects of digital technologies.

    Menaka Philips is Assistant Professor of Political Science and Gender and Sexuality Studies at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. Her research areas include democratic theory,?feminist political thought, postcolonial studies, and American political thought.

    The Wives of Western Philosophy offers a fascinating revisionary history of the women most closely associated with the men who have long dominated the canon of Western political philosophy. By looking at the tradition of Western political thought through the lens of these women's lives and writings, from Xanthippe to Harriet Taylor Mill, the contributors overturn and challenge the gender biases that have unreflectively pervaded past scholarship and teaching in the field."

    Eileen Hunt Botting, Professor of Political Science, University of Notre Dame

    "Abundantly insightful, characterized by an exuberant harmony of purpose and feminist intent, this fresh and inventive collection of essays brings the figure of the "wife" — as thinker, coauthor, concept, and collaborator — out of the shadows cast by heteropatriarchal histories of Western political thought. If you haven’t met the real "wives of political theory" here brought to light, you’ll be thoroughly acquainted by the time you finish this spirited book. The essays are both valuable biographical works that redeem female intellectual labors and illuminating examples of how "reading gender" opens up new ways to understand the production of canonical texts."

    Mary G. Dietz, John Evans Professor of Political Theory, Northwestern University