Philosophy and Feminism in the Middle Ages: Christine de Pizan (EN-CUR-371)

The presence of women in the history of philosophy has been scarce and the few contributions that have been made have had little relevance in the official histories of philosophy. The Middle Ages, on the other hand, are associated with theological thoughts and religion. To discover Christine de Pizan as a writer, a philosopher and a precursor of feminism in this era, implies a radical change in the conception of the Middle Ages and of the role that women played at that time.

Breaking patterns

This activity aims to bring students closer to the figure of Christine de Pizan, a medieval woman who breaks with the patterns of medieval women’s lives and contributes with her work to the history of Western thought. Pizan is also considered by Simone de Beauvoir, in her emblematic work “The Second Sex”, as the precursor of Feminism. In her work, the medieval thinker affirmed that female inferiority is not a condition due to nature but to education. Moreover, she clearly underlined that if women could access the same educational opportunities as men “they would learn and understand the difficulties and subtleties of all arts and sciences as well as men”.

The activity also aims to familiarize the rest of the students of the Center with the work of Pizan and this will be done through an exhibition with quotes from her work and images of her life.

The History of Philosophy

Finally, they will have to reflect on the role of women in the History of Philosophy, on their contributions and their invisibility, as well as to recognize the need to demand equal rights and opportunities between men and women.

This learning scenario has been developed during the English version of the “Europeana in your classroom: building 21st-century competences with digital cultural heritage (Rerun)” online course. The course aimed to improve teachers’ understanding of cultural heritage in order to efficiently integrate it into their lessons and practices. The courses can be accessed here.

Author: Rosa M Reina Pérez

Age of students: 16-18

Subject and Topic: Philosophy/ ESL / Women in Philosophy

Learning Scenario:

The featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana Collections and belongs to the public domain.

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