Theorizing Man & Woman: From Plato to Judith Butler

The Abigail Adams Institute
June 18-23, 2023

Questions surrounding sex and gender, and sexual equality and freedom, are especially fraught these days, both personally and politically. Through close study of texts and seminar style discussion, this week long summer course moves from metaphysics to ethics to politics, asking the following questions with “sex and gender” foremost in mind:

Who am I? We explore questions of body and soul and the relationship between them by reading Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Rene Descartes, Judith Butler, Shulamith Firestone, and others.

How am I to live? We explore questions of education and wisdom, virtue and happiness, sex and marriage, and work and family obligations by reading Christine de Pizan, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Mary Wollstonecraft, Sarah Grimke, Margaret Sanger, Dororthy Sayers & others.

How are we to live together? Finally, we explore questions of friendship and the common good, political freedom and legal equality, rights and duties, the purpose of law and the ends of government by reading Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Wollstonecraft, John Stuart Mill, Alexis de Tocqueville, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Catharine MacKinnon & others.

Students can look forward to Professors Franks & Bachiochi, their personal guides to challenging texts. The seminar environment provides room for discussion & disagreement. We encourage a wide-range of viewpoints and responses to course material!

In the evenings, students will have time to explore Boston & build community. Alumni of the seminar stay connected after the week is over, many staying in touch two or three years later!

The seminar is open to advanced undergraduates (including graduating seniors), graduate students, and young professionals.