We have just submitted the proposal below to APSA for the September 2020 annual conference in San Francisco. Watch this space for further news (and keep your fingers crossed)!
DESTABILIZING THE CANON WITH FEMINISM
AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE ASSOCIATION MEETING
SEPTEMBER 10-13, 2020
The feminist political theorist and historian of political thought Megan Gallagher, in a recent review in the journal Political Theory (Summer 2019), called for the return of the WOLLAPALOOZA! mini-conference at APSA, after we took a one year hiatus. After two popular and productive iterations of this event—which generated the first philosophical compendium on Wollstonecraft, The Wollstonecraftian Mind (Routledge, 2019)—we’re back and ready to destabilize the canon of political thought even further! 24 scholars from Europe and the United States will gather in San Francisco to engage the enduring relevance of Wollstonecraft for political science and political philosophy, especially for questions and concepts of democracy, race, gender, and feminism.
Session 1 of WOLLAPALOOZA! III explores the paradoxes of the American dream and American democracy with respect to Wollstonecraft, her family, and her followers’ legacies in the Americas—including new evidence of her ideas spreading to the abolition movement in Jamaica just prior to the Haitian Revolution; her philosophical impact upon her sister-in-law, Nancy Kingsbury Wollstonecraft, during her life in Cuba, New Orleans, and New England; and her reception by Brissot, the Rolands, and Wright in their plans to establish utopian communes in the United States. Session 2 assesses the need to decolonize both canonical political thought on women and feminist criticism of it, beginning with pioneering figures such as Montesquieu and Wollstonecraft, and extending to nineteenth-century African-American women’s rights advocates such as Truth and Wells. Session 3 charts the relevance of late eighteenth-century political thought for honing new philosophical definitions of republicanism, liberalism, feminism, and democracy, and better understandings of their intellectual and political relationships with one another. Session 4 confronts the endless wars within feminism over the compatibility of motherhood and citizenship, which Wollstonecraft herself addressed in her landmark A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), but also were engaged before her by Astell and Keralio, and after her by Wright, Fuller, Taylor and Mill, and Woodhull.
The guiding questions of WOLLAPALOOZA! III will be: What is Wollstonecraft’s legacy for thinking about race as well as feminism, in the Americas and other regions of the world, as well as in Europe and her homeland of Britain? Was her political theory republican, liberal, or democratic? And does her categorization as one or the other matter for contemporary debates about democracy, liberalism, republicanism, and feminism? And, last but not least, we will treat perhaps the most vexed question surrounding Wollstoneraft and her work: Just what sort of a (proto-) feminist was she? And what sort of a feminist is one who studies her work and its philosophical and political legacies?
Going forward, we hope that WOLLAPALOOZA! will be an annual one-day mini-conference at APSA, organized by members of the international Wollstonecraft Philosophical Society (founded at APSA in 2017), and co-sponsored by the Foundations of Political Theory and Women and Politics Research sections. The mission of this annual event is to raise the profile of feminist political philosophy in the profession of political science, showcase new approaches to the history of feminist political thought, and provide a welcoming, international networking space for feminist scholars at all stages of the academic career.
SESSION 1. Traditional Panel: "Wollstonecrafts in the Americas: Utopian Dreams of Democracy in the Long 19th Century."
Time: Thursday, 8 - 9:30am
Chair: Eileen Hunt Botting (University of Notre Dame)
The Londoner Wollstonecraft, like many revolutionary thinkers of the late eighteenth century, dreamed of going to America—the land of equality, freedom, and fresh starts. She didn’t, but she succeeded in sending her brother there. His second wife, Nancy Wollstonecraft, wrote a defense of women’s rights published in Boston in 1825.
In France, Brissot and the Rolands also planned to move to America to start a republican commune. Their plans fell through, so they turned their minds to buy a piece of land in France, and starting a commune there, to educate citizens in the new democratic mode.
In Scotland, the young Frances Wright also dreamt of escaping her conservative surroundings. She travelled to America to document what freedom looked like. In her second trip across the Atlantic, she had as a companion her adoptive father the French revolutionary statesman Lafayette. This time she stayed in America, founding a feminist and free-thinking commune in Kentucky for the goal of emancipating slaves.
Wright and Brissot had read Wollstonecraft. Brissot was possibly the French translator of her A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). Wright sought out the patronage of Wollstonecraft’s daughter Mary Shelley in London as well as former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson in the United States.
The opening session of the mini-conference “WOLLAPALOOZA! III: Destabilizing the Canon with Feminism,” this panel traces the still largely uncharted legacy of Wollstonecraft’s American dream in democratic, feminist, abolitionist, socialist, communal and other utopian political thought of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It will begin with a presentation of the little-known yet fascinating history of the Wollstonecraft family in the United States and Cuba from the 1790s to the early twentieth century, by the American historian Wayne Bodle, then proceed with four papers on Wollstonecraft’s (previously unstudied or understudied) reception in American democratic imaginaries during the nineteenth century: (1) amid the Anglo-American abolition movement in the Caribbean, (2) by her American sister-in-law, Nancy Kingsbury Wollstonecraft, on women’s rights, (3) by British and French thinkers who were concerned with the development of democracy in America, Fanny Wright, Brissot, and the Rolands, and, finally, (4) by nineteenth-century American thinkers on women’s rights and race such as Nancy Kingsbury Wollstonecraft and Frederick Douglass.
1. Wayne Bodle (Indiana University of Pennsylvania), “Wollstonecraft(s) in the Americas, 1792-1904.”
2. Eileen Hunt Botting (University of Notre Dame), “Wollstonecraft and Jamaica: Feminist Abolitionism before the Haitian Revolution.”
3. Sandrine Bergès (Bilkent University), "Colonizing the American Republic - from Manon Roland to Frances Wright"
4. Carol Bensick (UCLA), “'As Much Force, and More Justice': The Boston Publisher's Comparison of Anne Kingsbury Wollstonecraft's ‘Natural Rights of Women’ with Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman in his 1834 Female Biography.”
5. Alan Coffee (King’s College, London), “Women’s Rights and Race in America after Wollstonecraft.”
Discussant: Virginia Sapiro (Boston University)
2. Traditional Panel: “Decolonizing Wollstonecraft.”
Time: Thursday, 10:00-11:30am
Chair: Laura Brace (University of Leicester)
Although Wollstonecraft demonstrated an overarching political concern with the injustice of slavery and the justice of abolition in her oeuvre between 1787 and 1797, she grew to use the concept of slavery to primarily conceptualize northern and central (white) European women’s conditions of subordination under patriarchy (especially in her internationally-received treatise A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and posthumously published novel, Maria, or The Wrongs of Woman). Some have criticised her work, and the style of feminism that can be derived from it, for that reason, while others have tried to show that her arguments could and should, in fact, be used to decolonize feminism.
The second session of the mini-conference “WOLLAPALOOZA! III: Destabilizing the Canon with Feminism,” this panel will debate what Wollstonecraft’s position and legacy on slavery and non-white feminism is, and it will look at how philosophers (of colour, and white) have drawn on arguments similar to hers in their work, from Montesquieu to Sojourner Truth to Ida B. Wells.
Discussant: Alan Coffee (King’s College, London)
LUNCH BREAK: Thursday, 12:30-2pm
SESSION 3. Roundtable: “Rethinking Republicanisms after the Revolutionary Era.”
Time: Thursday, 2-3:30pm
Chair: Alan Coffee (King’s College, London)
What is the relationship between republicanism, feminism, liberalism, and democracy after the politics and political thought of the American and French Revolutions? This roundtable addresses this historical and methodological question with lightning-short presentations (10 minutes) so as to accommodate a broad (and often conflicting) range of views on how the development of republicanism, feminism, liberalism, and democracy should be represented in the history of political ideas. As part of the “WOLLAPALOOZA! Destabilizing the Canon with Feminism” mini-conference, it will treat the use of these four rubrics to interpret a pivotal revolutionary-era political thinker, Mary Wollstonecraft, in the canon of the history of political thought, and alongside her fellow political scientists and constitutional theorists of the late eighteenth century, such as Thomas Paine, John Dickinson, William Godwin, the Rolands, Olympe de Gouges, and Edmund Burke. It will also critically engage the broader methodological question of these four terms’ wider use and abuse in the fields of political theory and political philosophy. The upshot of this roundtable will be to think through, in new and creative directions, with the mini-conference participants and other audience members, “Do we need a new term or, better yet, a new vocabulary to discuss what Wollstonecraft and other revolutionary-era political thinkers stood for in their time, and stand for the schools of thought on republicanism, feminism, liberalism, and democracy that they have shaped since?”
1. Jane Calvert (University of Kentucky)
2. Serena Vantin (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia)
3. Adam Lebovitz (University of Cambridge)
4. Stephanie DeGooyer (Willamette University)
5. Megan Gallagher (University of Alabama)
6. Sandrine Bergès (Bilkent University)
SESSION 4. Roundtable: “Feminist Wars! Motherhood, Domesticity, Sex & Citizenship.”
Time: Thursday, 4-5:30pm.
Chair: Sandrine Bergès (Bilkent University)
Wollstonecraft famously argued that a mother did not deserve the title of citizen unless she cared for her children properly. On the other hand, she also argued that women did not have a duty to marry or become mothers. During and after Wollstonecraft’s lifetime, the question of whether women were wives and mothers before they were citizens or vice-versa divided feminists. The concluding session of “WOLLAPALOOZA! III: Destabilizing the Canon with Feminism,” this roundtable looks at Wollstonecraft’s attitudes on relationships and domesticity as well as that of 19th-century proto-feminists who were influenced by her.
From the director of Fragments & Monuments performance and film company.
Join us at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue on Monday, 30th September to celebrate human rights pioneer Mary Wollstonecraft.
For one night only, Anita Rani, Jude Kelly and an all-star cast will bring to life her inspirational story.
Buy your tickets today and you'll help ensure her lasting legacy!
PS. You can spread the word on social media using the hashtag #AmazonSteptOut.
A few weeks ago I announced here the discovery of a Cuban botanical book by Mary Wollstonecraft’s sister in law, Nancy, as well as an article by her in the Boston Monthly entitled ‘On the Natural Rights of Women’. A few days later, I found out through Wollstonecraft scholar Eileen Hunt Botting, that this ‘discovery’ had in fact been the research focus of Wayne Bodle. We contacted Prof. Bodle and he agreed to give us an account of his discovery of Nancy Wollstonecraft. The first installment is below. Enjoy!
In July of 1824 a ship from Cuba arrived in Portland, Maine. Its passenger manifest listed “Madame Mary Woolstencroft,” a “planter” from Matanzas, and a young boy, “Charles Woolstencroft,” (10), probably her son They may have traveled with the third listed passenger, Richard Keating, an American sea captain who was like Mary a recently-widowed single parent. Maybe they came to meet his mother, the Maine novelist, Sarah Sayward Barrell Keating Wood ( aka,“Madame Wood”), about any plans for remarriage? But “Mary,” whose actual name was Nancy Kingsbury Wollstonecraft, hurried to Boston on business that seemed more professional than personal. She just as likely brought sample paintings of Cuban plant life that have recently been described on this blog, or letters and essays that she hoped to have published in Boston.
Nancy toured Harvard’s campus and its botanical garden, whose gardener she had criticized in notes to the pictures. She attended the college’s commencement ceremony, where she saw the Marquis de Lafayette on his celebrated tour of America. She sparred with a friend, the writer Hannah Adams, over whether “this good republican” or any European “kings and emperors,” would be worthier figures to be introduced to. Spoiler alert: Nancy did not seem quite as radical on that issue as her late sister-in-law Mary Wollstonecraft would have been. Within two years her essay on the “The Natural Rights of Woman” under the pseudonym of “D’Anvers,” and anonymous “Letters from Cuba” appeared in the Boston Monthly Magazine. Her annotated botanical paintings vanished into American thin air for almost two centuries.
In 1828, a wintering Yankee “invalid” (a health tourist) the Reverend Abiel Abbot, visited adjacent cottages in Matanzas to see “two literary ladies”—“Mrs.W.” (Nancy Wollstonecraft), and “Mrs. B.” (Maria Gowen Brooks). Brooks was a struggling but already published poet who, like Wood, had married young to a much older man and was widowed with dependent children. She had also once, like (or maybe even with)Wood spent some complicated years in Portland. Intersections between these figures, and the spectacle of American expatriate culture in Cuba, are compelling topics without adding a volatile surname like Wollstonecraft. Brooks’s and Wood’s non-celebrity resonate with contemporary scholarly injunctions to recover obscure voices in literary studies or to write history “from the bottom up” in my own discipline.  But it was truly the Wollstonecraft brand that drew my attention to the subject. Some biographers of Mary Wollstonecraft have acknowledged an American branch of her family—a brother, Charles, sent over by Mary—who married the daughter of a “Judge Garrison” in New Orleans. Or an abducted niece, Jane, whose descendants, one scholar speculated (wrongly) in 1974, may “even now [be] making their contributions to Castro’s revolutionary society.” Such musings were fanciful sidebars to a lived life that very soon burst spectacularly into Revolutionary France. In 1848 Mary Shelley told a cousin in Australia that her “Uncle Charles” had “left no family” in America, and that she and her husband Percy were likely the “nearest relatives” still living.
I “discovered” Charles Wollstonecraft in a footnote to a traditional volume of military history in the late 1980s while prospecting for a study of America’s post-revolutionary army as a device to measure changing civilian gender dynamics on the Ohio Valley frontier. Envisioning at most an article on him, I made a folder for it and set it aside, where it remained inert for years! It took the dawn of the internet age, and some different interpretive priorities on my part, to bring the “Wollstonecrafts in America” back into view. I am very grateful to Professor Bergès for the invitation to offer a few notes about these interesting figures here, and in another post or two.
 Brooks has received scholarly analysis from Kirsten Silva Gruesz, and Wood has earned some attention from Karen A. Weyler, but neither of them as yet resonate on quite the scale of popular interest accorded to, for example, the Peabody Sisters—who “ignited American Romanticism.”
Wayne Bodle is a Senior Research Associate of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Before retiring two years ago, he taught at Penn, the University of Iowa, Rider University, and mostly, Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He is working on a book on the “Wollstonecrafts in America,” from 1792 until at least 1904.
The Wollstonecraft Society, founded by the Mary on the Green group is the political arm of global Wollstonecraftianism. They are, as of this week, on twitter. Follow them @TheWollSoc and watch out for their upcoming launch!
Follow us @WollPhilSoc
Wollapalooza II! Daughters, Dissenters, Democracies, Discontents - a mini conference at APSA 2018 Boston
Wollapalooza II! Daughters, Dissenters, Democracies, Discontents
Sat, September 1, 8:00am to 5:30pm, Sheraton, Republic Ballroom B
Session Submission Type: Mini-conference
Session Description: This mini-conference (hereafter, WOLLAPA-2-ZA!) to be held at APSA 2018 in Boston showcases further work in preparation for The Wollstonecraftian Mind, the first comprehensive philosophical compendium on Wollstonecraft and her legacies, and also directly engages the themes of the broader conference--democracy and its discontents--from various historical, feminist, republican, intersectional, and critical race perspectives. WOLLAPA-2-ZA! also celebrates two major bicentennials for feminist political theory in 2018: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (London, 1818) and Hannah Mather Crocker’s Observations on the Real Rights of Women (Boston, 1818) The work of these intellectual daughters of Wollstonecraft provide a frame for thinking about how Wollstonecraft’s work as a writer, mother, philosopher, and advocate of women’s and other human rights has shaped discourses and practices of dissent among discontented creatures of modern democracy, including women, slaves, racial, ethnic, gender, and religious minorities, the disabled, and children.
Sandrine Berges (Bilkent)
Eileen Hunt Botting (Notre Dame)
Alan Coffee (King’s College London)
FRANKENSTEIN’S CREATURE AT 200:
DEMOCRACY’S CHILDREN, & THEIR DISCONTENTS
Format: Presenters speak for 15 minutes each, followed by discussion with audience adjudicated by chair.
Eileen Hunt Botting (Notre Dame), Chair
Emily Dumler-Winckler (St. Louis University), “Science and Virtue in Frankenstein.”
Michael Lamb (Wake Forest), “Frankenstein on Trial.”
Emma Planinc (University of Chicago), “On ’the unnameable’: universals and particulars in Frankenstein.”
Eileen Hunt Botting (Notre Dame), “Hearing the Creature: Articulating the Child’s Right to be Genetically Modified.”
DISSENTING LIKE A GIRL:
FEMINIST MODES & DEMOCRATIC ORDERS
Format: Authors present papers (12 minutes) followed by comments from discussant (8 minutes). Chair adjudicates discussion with audience for remaining time.
Sandrine Bergès (Bilkent University), Chair
Spyridon Tegos (University of Crete), “Wollstonecraft's Appropriation of Adam Smith.”
Emily Dumler-Winckler (St. Louis University), “Wollstonecraft, Religious Dissent, and Democracy.”
Alea Henle (Miami University), “Hannah Mather Crocker’s Inclusion in the Archives.”
Helen McCabe (University of Nottingham), “Harriet Taylor Mill as a Dissenting--and Probably Discontented--Daughter of Wollstonecraft.”
Discussant: Ruth Abbey (Notre Dame)
NOON-2PM LUNCH BREAK IN BOSTON
COMPARATIVE FEMINIST REPUBLICANISMS
Format: This session format incorporates a handful of topic clusters engaging the comparative study of feminist republicanisms, past and present, each staffed with a scholar in the field who has successfully used new methods and epistemological frameworks to engage the justification and import of feminist approaches to republican politics. Attendees group together at tables to discuss research processes, methodologies, ask questions, and brainstorm together around issues in this growing field in the history of political thought, feminist theory, and political theory more broadly.
Chair: Alan Coffee (King’s College, London)
Wendy Gunther-Canada (University of Alabama-Birmingham) on Catherine Macaulay and Mary Wollstonecraft
Sandrine Bergès (Bilkent University) on Republican Women of the French Revolution
Lisa Pace Vetter (University of Maryland-Baltimore County) on Frances Wright’s civic republicanism and socialism
Alan Coffee (King’s College London) on Mary Wollstonecraft and Frederick Douglass
Helen McCabe (University of Nottingham) on Harriet Taylor (Mill) and John Stuart Mill
BROOKINGS FORMAT PANEL
SLAVERY, RACE, AND GENDER
Format: Each discussant presents analysis of paper (12 minutes) followed by response by author (8 minutes). In remaining time, the chair adjudicates discussion with the audience.
Chair: Wendy Gunther-Canada (University of Alabama-Birmingham)
Laura Brace (University of Leicester), “The 1792 Debates on Slavery.”
Discussant: Nancy Kendrick (Wheaton College, MA)
Alvin B. Tillery (Northwestern), “Black Readers of the Declaration of Independence.”
Discussant: Alan Coffee (King’s College London)
Jack Turner (University of Washington), "Empire and Equal Opportunity: Audre Lorde on the U.S. Invasion of Grenada."
Discussant: Madeline Cronin (Santa Clara University)
Garrett FitzGerald (Notre Dame), “A Wollstonecraftian Theory of Restorative Justice.”
Discussant: Penny Weiss (St. Louis University)