The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book Feminist Interpretations of Thomas Hobbes

Feminist Interpretations of Thomas Hobbes

Edited by Nancy J. Hirschmann, and Joanne H. Wright
  • Copyright: 2012
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 312 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-05635-7
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-05636-4
  • Series Name: Re-Reading the Canon

Feminist Interpretations of Thomas Hobbes features the work of feminist scholars who are centrally engaged with Hobbes’s ideas and texts and who view Hobbes as an important touchstone in modern political thought. Bringing together scholars from the disciplines of philosophy, history, political theory, and English literature who embrace diverse theoretical and philosophical approaches and a range of feminist perspectives, this interdisciplinary collection aims to appeal to an audience of Hobbes scholars and nonspecialists alike.

As a theorist whose trademark is a compelling argument for absolute sovereignty, Hobbes may seem initially to have little to offer twenty-first-century feminist thought. Yet, as the contributors to this collection demonstrate, Hobbesian political thought provides fertile ground for feminist inquiry. Indeed, in engaging Hobbes, feminist theory engages with what is perhaps the clearest and most influential articulation of the foundational concepts and ideas associated with modernity: freedom, equality, human nature, authority, consent, coercion, political obligation, and citizenship.

Aside from the editors, the contributors are Joanne Boucher, Karen Detlefsen, Karen Green, Wendy Gunther-Canada, Jane S. Jaquette, S. A. Lloyd, Su Fang Ng, Carole Pateman, Gordon Schochet, Quentin Skinner, and Susanne Sreedhar.

Nancy J. Hirschmann is Professor of Political Science at The University of Pennsylvania. She is also co-editor with Kirstie McClure of Feminist Interpretations of John Locke (Penn State, 2007).

Joanne H. Wright is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of New Brunswick.



Nancy Tuana


Introduction: The Many Faces of “Mr. Hobs”

Joanne H. Wright and Nancy J. Hirschmann

1 Hobbes, History, Politics, and Gender: A Conversation with Carole Pateman and Quentin Skinner

Conducted by Nancy J. Hirschmann and Joanne H. Wright

Part 1 Classic Questions, New Approaches

2 Power and Sexual Subordination in Hobbes’s Political Theory

S. A. Lloyd

3 Defending Liberal Feminism: Insights from Hobbes

Jane S. Jaquette

4 Hobbes and the Bestial Body of Sovereignty

Su Fang Ng

Part 2 The Gendered Politics of Gratitude, Contract, and the Family

5 Thomas Hobbes on the Family and the State of Nature (1967)

Gordon J. Schochet

6 Gordon Schochet on Hobbes, Gratitude, and Women

Nancy J. Hirschmann

Part 3 Hobbes and His(torical) Women

7 Margaret Cavendish and Thomas Hobbes on Freedom, Education, and Women

Karen Detlefsen

8 When Is a Contract Theorist Not a Contract Theorist? Mary Astell and Catharine Macaulay as Critics of Thomas Hobbes

Karen Green

9 Catharine Macaulay’s “Loose Remarks” on Hobbesian Politics

Wendy Gunther-Canada

Part 4 Hobbes in the Twenty-First Century, or What Has Hobbes Done for You Lately?

10 Thomas Hobbes and the Problem of Fetal Personhood

Joanne Boucher

11 Choice Talk, Breast Implants, and Feminist Consent Theory: Hobbes’s Legacy in Choice Feminism

Joanne H. Wright

12 Toward a Hobbesian Theory of Sexuality

Susanne Sreedhar

Notes on Contributors


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