[PAST EVENT] GSWS Brown bag with Rebekah Sterling
March 16, 2016
12:30pm - 1:30pm
This talk examines the work of a 17th-century French feminist, Gabrielle Suchon. A former nun who obtained release from her vows, Suchon published two philosophical works about women's condition: the Treatise on Morals and Politics (1683) and On Voluntary Celibacy, or a Life without Commitments (1700). In these books, she formulates an alternative ideal of individual freedom, drawing on Catholic, Stoic, and other ancient and modern authors. This talk focuses especially on her argument for women's freedom of movement and travel, what she calls the libert du lieu (freedom of place). Suchon extols travel's ability not only to develop the mind but to regulate the passions. Yet while acknowledging travel's perils and risks, she also construes travel as a flight from the perils, persecution, and constraints of home -- and from the anger, anguish, and negative passions generated by everyday relationships. Suchon connects internal and external freedom: physical mobility and contemplative detachment become strategies not only for cultivating the soul but for resisting constraint and servitude. Overall, Suchon's writings expand and complicate conventional histories of "freedom" within Western political thought.