Constructing the equality of the sexes in the early modern period

Penser l’égalité des sexes à l’ancien régime

International Conference, 25th-26th October 2017
National University of Ireland, 49 Merrion Square, Dublin 2

The concept of equality as an intellectual category, and a realizable aim for humanity, remains for many scholars today associated with the eighteenth century. Yet in recent decades, historians of ideas have increasingly acknowledged the role of the seventeenth century in the evolution of egalitarian ideas, despite the dominant mindset of hierarchy and binarism prevalent at the time. The aim of this conference is to examine the ways in which an equality between the sexes is constructed, conceptualised, envisaged, imagined, dramatized, realized or dismissed in early modern France, whilst allowing for the concomitant ambiguities and limitations inevitable within the paradigms of the period. In addition to examining the political and philosophical underpinnings of early modern equality debates in France, the conference aims to foster the growing awareness among historians and political scientists of the increased need for a history of equality within the history of political thought. It is clear that continuing to acknowledge a tradition of resistance, of reevaluation, of reassessment regarding co-called normative gender assumptions, understanding that tradition, both its arguments and its very existence, can only enrich our understanding of the silent mechanisms that underpin power relations and gender relations – in all their heterogeneity and complexity – in our own societies.
Keynote speakers: Geneviève Fraisse, Marie-Frédérique Pellegrin, Siep Stuurman

Enquiries and registration:
Dr Derval Conroy, Associate Professor, French and Francophone Studies, UCD

Download the programme here.