Ménage's learned ladies: Anne Dacier (1647-1720) and Anna Maria van Schurmann (1607-1678)

Wyles, Rosie (2016) Ménage's learned ladies: Anne Dacier (1647-1720) and Anna Maria van Schurmann (1607-1678). In: Wyles, Rosie and Hall, Edith, eds. Women Classical Scholars: Unsealing the Fountain from the Renaissance to the Twentieth Century. Oxford University Press, pp. 61-77. ISBN 9780198725206. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Abstract

In 1690, the French scholar Gilles Ménage (1613-1692) published the first edition of his Historia Mulierum Philosopharum (The History of Women Philosophers), in which he collected information about over sixty-five female philosophers from antiquity. In the pages of this catalogue, he also singled out two outstandingly learned women of his own day: Anna Maria van Schurman (1607-78) and Anne Dacier (née Le Fèvre, 1647-1720), calling them both 'doctissima' (very learned). This chapter explores the significance of Ménage’s publication and his praise of these two women. It suggests that Ménage did more than simply honour Anne Dacier through this publication; he, in fact, justifies her career choice and implies that her serious engagement with learning makes her, and women like her, the equal of contemporary male scholars. At the same time, while his praise of Dacier and van Schurman suggests parity between these women, the reality is that they used their classical learning to strikingly different ends. Anna Maria van Schurman showed herself to be far more interested in the question of female education, while Anne Dacier was more concerned with promoting the appreciation of classical literature. Yet Ménage’s publication would result in Dacier being used as a leading example, alongside van Schurman, in treatises arguing for female education across the following centuries. This case study, therefore, invites reflection on the nature of biography and the question of who has control over the meaning of an individual's engagement in classical learning.

Item Type: Book section
Uncontrolled keywords: Keywords: Ménage; Madame Dacier; Anna Maria van Schurman; Anne Le Fèvre; exempla
Subjects: D History General and Old World
P Language and Literature
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > Classical and Archaeological Studies
Depositing User: Rosie Wyles
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2017 12:01 UTC
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2017 08:47 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/61402 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
ORCiD (Wyles, Rosie): http://orcid.org/0000-0002-5666-7416
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