Mary Wollstonecraft Goes to University: A Symposium

  • Date: –17:30
  • Location: Universitetshuset, sal IV
  • Lecturer: Dr Laura Kirkley, University of Newcastle, Martina Reuter Universitye of Juväskylä, Professor Lena Halldenius, Lund University, Professor Emma Clery, Uppsala University
  • Website
  • Organiser: Democracy and Higher Education
  • Contact person: Emma Clery
  • Seminarium

The symposium will celebrate the publication of two new monographs on Mary Wollstonecraft, part of an international resurgence of research on her career and writings in diverse disciplines.

There will be given talks the authors of two new books on Wollstonecraft, one from a literary perspective, the other in moral philosophy. Both talks will address the relevance of Wollstonecraft’s writings to current issues in democracy and higher education.  

Martina Reuter, University of Jyväskylä. Author of Mary Wollstonecraft in the ‘Elements on Women in the History of Philosophy’ Series (Cambridge University Press, 2022).

‘Putting Mary Wollstonecraft in the Philosophical Canon’ 
The talk argues the case for the inclusion of Wollstonecraft in the canon of moral philosophy as it is taught at universities around the world. Wollstonecraft was first to include gender systematically in her moral and political thought. She argues that true virtue and the liberty of the oppressed cannot be achieved one without the other. Her emphasis on education is still crucial for any society aiming for democracy. Reciprocally, her presence in the canon is a sign of advances toward democratizing education.


Laura Kirkley, University of Newcastle. Author of Mary Wollstonecraft: Cosmopolitan (Edinburgh University Press, 2022).

 'The Cosmopolitan Ideal in Wollstonecraft's Democratic Politics'
The talk will outline the way Mary Wollstonecraft drew on the tradition of cosmopolitan patriotism to argue that the primary principle of universal benevolence meant extending human rights across national borders to the entire human family. She identified barriers to that ideal in systemic inequalities as well as the norms of human psychology, and proposed pedagogical solutions to them. Would she have regarded the conditions of modern Higher Education as conducive to that cosmopolitan pedagogical vision?


Lena Halldenius, Professor in Human Rights Studies, Lund University.  Author of Mary Wollstonecraft and Feminist Republicanism: Independence, Rights and the Experience of Unfreedom (Pickering & Chatto, 2015).

Emma Clery, Professor in English Literature, Uppsala University. General Editor of The Collected Works of Mary Wollstonecraft, Oxford University Press.

Free and open to all. Register here
(Picture: Mary Wollstonecraft av John Opie, Wikimedia commons)

Mary Wollstonecraft av John Opie, Wikimedia commons