I’m Simone Webb, a first year PhD student in Gender Studies at University College London. My research is on “philosophy as a way of life”, a concept drawn from the French thinker Pierre Hadot, as it’s used and represented by three early modern British women philosophers: Damaris Masham, Mary Astell and Catharine Cockburn. In order to consider “philosophy as a way of life”, and other modes of philosophical activity which consist in something other than propositional systematic arguments, I’m paying particular attention to genre in the texts of these women, and the ways in which some modes of philosophy can only be instantiated in particular genres. As part of my research, I’m looking at Stoic, Epicurean and Platonist traditions of philosophy as continued in the early modern era, and how Masham, Astell and Cockburn respond to and comment on these traditions.

This blog will cover aspects of my research and my thoughts about academic practice more broadly. Feel free to get in touch – especially if you’re interested in or researching any of the areas I’m looking at!

Oh, and why “A Wretched Scrowl”?  The phrase comes from one of Catharine Cockburn’s letters to her husband-to-be, Patrick Cockburn, in 1707: “Sir, I Sent you a wretched scrowl from London, when I was neither provided of proper writing tools, nor knew, whether the matter I writ about was a proper proposal to you,…” (Cockburn 1751, Vol II, 212)