Agnes Cuming Lecture Series

The UCD School of Philosophy has an annual/biannual series of prominent philosophers come to speak at the School. This is made possible by a bequest of Agnes Cuming, one of the first female philosophy graduates of University College Dublin.


Biography of Agnes Cuming

Ms Agnes Cuming, daughter of a King’s Counsel, was born on 29 September 1890. She graduated from University College Dublin in the autumn of 1910, just two years after the National University of Ireland had been established (1908). This means that she actually entered as a student of the Royal University. At the time the degree was called Mental and Moral Science, and was a popular choice at the Royal University.

Of course one of the praiseworthy features of the NUI was that from its inception it had admitted women as full students. There were two women in the 1909-1910 Degree class of 24. Her professors would have included Professor Magennis, Professor of Metaphysics; Fr. John Shine, Professor of Logic and Psychology, and Dr M. Cronin, Professor of Ethics and Politics, who were all appointed in 1909. She achieved First Class Honours in her BA Examination and shared first place in the class with Robert L. McKernan.

Ms Cuming was awarded the MA in 1911 and the Travelling Studentship in Philosophy in 1912, at the time beating Robert McKernan to the Scholarship. He was awarded a prize of £100. She was the first, and for many years the only woman to have reached Master’s and Travelling Studentship standard in UCD in Philosophy.

She attended St Anne’s College, Oxford, and was awarded the BSc after World War I, in 1920. She went on to become the Librarian of University College Hull.

Ms Cuming willed one-third of the residue of her estate to be divided equally between St Anne’s College, Oxford and University College Dublin. The interest from this share funds the Agnes Cuming Public Lectures in Philosophy.

In recognition of Ms Cuming’s commitment to Philosophy and to UCD, the Philosophy Seminar Room has been renamed the Agnes Cuming Seminar Room.


Past speakers

Year Speaker
2016 Susan Haack, University of Miami
2015 Quentin Skinner, Queen Mary University of London
2014 J David Velleman, New York University
2013 John McDowell, Pittsburgh
2012 Christine Korsgaard, Harvard
2011 Terence Irwin, Oxford
2009 Axel Honneth, Frankfurt
2007 Hilary Putnam, Harvard
2005 Gordon Graham, University of Aberdeen
2004 Raimond Gaita, King’s College London

Bas Van Fraassen, Princeton
Ernan McMullin, Notre Dame

2001 David Pears, Oxford
1999 Edward Casey, State University of New York, Stony Brook
1998 John Searle, University of California, Berkeley
1997 Jacques Derrida, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris
Paul Ricoeur, Nanterre
1996 Julia Annas, Oxford and University of Arizona
1995 Daniel Dennett, Tufts University
1994 Alisdair MacIntyre, Notre Dame
1993 Noam Chomsky, MIT
1992 Kevin Mulligan, Geneva
1991 Louis Dupré, Yale
1990 Roger Scruton, Birkbeck, London
1989 Antonio Negri, Italy
1988 Gerard Verbeke, Louvain
1986 Josef Pieper, Munster
1985 G.A. Cohen, Oxford
1982 Philippa Foot, Oxford
1979 Herbert McCabe, Blackfriars
1978 Michael Slote, Trinity