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  • Cited by 59
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
July 2012
Print publication year:
Online ISBN:
Ideas in Context (99)

Book description

Republic of Women recaptures a lost chapter in the narrative of intellectual history. It tells the story of a transnational network of female scholars who were active members of the seventeenth-century republic of letters and demonstrates that this intellectual commonwealth was a much more eclectic and diverse assemblage than has been assumed. These seven scholars - Anna Maria van Schurman, Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, Marie de Gournay, Marie du Moulin, Dorothy Moore, Bathsua Makin and Katherine Jones, Lady Ranelagh - were philosophers, schoolteachers, reformers and mathematicians. They hailed from England, Ireland, Germany, France and the Netherlands, and together with their male colleagues - men like Descartes, Huygens, Hartlib and Montaigne - they represented the spectrum of contemporary approaches to science, faith, politics and the advancement of learning. Carol Pal uses their collective biography to reconfigure the intellectual biography of early modern Europe, offering a new, expanded analysis of the seventeenth-century community of ideas.


'What distinguishes this book is that it moves the focus away from publication, and toward those practices more easily lost to the historical record … an important contribution to our knowledge of the work and lives of early modern women scholars.'

Marguerite Deslauriers Source: The Review of Politics

'Pal’s focus on this group of remarkable women can only be commended, and she convincingly demonstrates that they were as self-conscious as contemporary male scholars in seeking out possible mentors and, in turn, offering to fill the same role for younger women … Pal’s biography of these women as a group is a useful and interesting contribution to the study not only of early modern women writers, but also of the Republic of Letters as a whole.'

Joanna Barker Source: The Seventeenth Century

'Pal's study adds a great deal to our understanding of this Republic. Above all, she demonstrates that these women brought distinct qualities to bear within this community, including a clear sense of collegiality, which found expression in mentoring relationships.'

Kenneth Austin Source: Huguenot Society Journal

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