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Early Modern Women on Metaphysics, Religion and Science

Call for Papers for the Conference on 21-23 March 2016, University of Groningen
18 November 2014
early modern women

During the early modern period (c. 1600-1800) women were involved in many debates that tangled together metaphysics, religion and science. The women included figures such as Margaret Cavendish, Emilie Du Châtelet, Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, and Damaris Cudworth Masham. The debates surrounded issues such as atomism, determinism, motion, mind-body causation, mechanism, space, and natural laws.

The last twenty years have seen an increasing interest in women philosophers that have been neglected by the history of their discipline. A substantial body of work now exists on early modern women philosophers, much of it concerning ethics and political philosophy. This conference will focus on metaphysics, religion and science, and in doing so provide a fresh perspective from which to view the work of early modern women, throwing light on areas that are relatively underexplored.

The conference will be held from 21-23 March 2016, at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Groningen. The program will be comprised of both invited speakers and speakers drawn from an open call for papers; please see below for details. Subject to peer review, conference papers will be published as part of a collection.

Confirmed Invited Speakers

  • Sarah Hutton (Aberystwyth, UK)
  • Jacqueline Broad (Monash, Australia)
  • Susan James (Birkbeck, UK)
  • Andrew Janiak (Duke, USA)
  • Karen Detlefsen (University of Pennsylvania, USA)
  • David Cunning (University of Iowa, USA)
  • Deborah Boyle (College of Charleston, USA)
  • Tom Stoneham (York, UK)
  • Ruth Hagengruber (Universität Paderborn, Germany)
  • Mirjam de Baar (University of Groningen, Netherlands)

Call for Papers

Submissions are invited from any discipline, and from researchers of all levels (including PhD students). Submissions are welcome on any aspect of the conference theme. To illustrate, submissions may deal with early modern women in relation to metaphysics or religion or science; or in relation to all three areas.

To submit for the conference, please email an abstract - maximum 800 words - to Emily Thomas [a.e.e.thomas]. The abstract should be anonymised for blind review, and the email should contain the author’s details (name, position, affiliation, contact details). The deadline for abstract submission is 20th October 2015.    

Suggested topics include (but are not limited to):

  • The collective involvement of women in early modern metaphysics, religion or science
  • The individual work of women on metaphysics, religion or science; these may be women who are familiar to scholarship, or who are currently entirely unknown
  • Early modern women philosophers in relation to current (i.e. twenty-first century) debates in metaphysics, religion or science
  • Feminist or other theoretical approaches to early modern women’s metaphysics, religion or science
  • Comparative studies of early modern women with other thinkers (men or women, historical or contemporary) in a way that relates to the conference theme

Thanks to the Netherlands Research Council (NWO), there is funding to cover speakers’ accommodation and meals throughout the duration of the conference. Additionally, it is possible that a small contribution may be made towards speakers’ further travel costs.

Conference Registration

The conference is free to attend (although there is no provision to cover non-speaker attendees’ accommodation, meal or travel costs).

Non-Groningen based scholars who are intending to come should register by emailing the organiser - Emily Thomas [ a.e.e.thomas ] - by 7th March 2016, to give us an accurate idea of numbers.


faculty of theology and religious studies

Groningen lies approximately 200km north of Amsterdam. It is connected to Amsterdam and Schipol (Amsterdam airport) by direct train routes, with an average journey time of two hours and twenty minutes.

Groningen city centre is small, and it is a 15 minute walk from the train station to the conference venue (Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, Oude Boteringestraat 38, 9712 GK, Groningen). On Google maps, search ‘Groningen Station’ to ‘Oude Boteringestraat 38’.


Conference speakers

Accommodation will be arranged for conference speakers.

Conference (non-speaker) attendees

Conference attendees must arrange their own accommodation. There are many hotels, bed and breakfasts, and hostels in the centre of the city, all of which are an easy walk from the conference venue. These can be searched using an engine such as or

A very small selection of accommodation includes:

  • Bud Gett Hostel Groningen (hostel; dorms from €25)
  • Pension Tivoli (budget pension; rooms from €35)
  • The University Hotel (midrange 3* hotel; rooms from €65)

Conference Organisation

The conference is organised by Emily Thomas, as part of a Netherlands Research Council (NWO) Veni project. It is supported by the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Groningen.

Last modified:25 June 2021 5.32 p.m.

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