Teaching Ancient Women Philosophers: A Case Study

Abstract

In this paper I discuss in some detail my experience teaching women philosophers in the context of a survey course in ancient Greek philosophy at a small liberal arts college. My aim is to share the peculiar difficulties one may encounter when teaching this topic in a lower-level undergraduate course, difficulties stemming from a multiplicity of methodological hurdles that do not arise when teaching women philosophers in other periods, such as the modern era. In the first section, I briefly review some of what we know about ancient Greek women philosophers, which is not only very little but frustratingly uncertain and highly debated. I devote the second section to some of the scholarly debates surrounding these philosophers’ doctrines, the details of their biographies, and their very existence. The third section is about the corresponding pedagogical challenges, and the fourth and final section describes the strategies I implemented to face those challenges.

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Sara Protasi
University of Puget Sound

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