Mining a Toxic Quarry: Louise Dupin’s Construction of the Work on Women

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Louise Dupin’s Work on Women is the French Enlightenment’s most in-depth feminist analysis of inequality–and its most neglected one. Angela Hunter and Rebecca Wilkin have just published the first English edition of Dupin’s massive project, developed from manuscript drafts. Dupin’s central claim is that “masculine vanity” aggrandizes men, diminishes women, and distorts all realms of knowledge–science, history, philosophy, law–as well as lived experience. In this presentation, Hunter and Wilkin focus on Dupin’s use of sources, from scientific journals to compilations of travel narratives and collections of law cases. Characterized by astounding breadth, the Work on Women is both a critique of the sexist foundations of knowledge, in which discourses produce the effects they pretend to document, and a new type of feminist construction.

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Co-sponsored by the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies

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