Sixteenth -century lesbian philosophy? Lucrezia Marinella and desire between women

Venice, 1600: a book called The Nobility and Excellence of Women and the Defects and Vices of Men is published. It’s by Lucrezia Marinella (1571-1653), the educated daughter of a physician. She’s written before – her first work was published in 1595 – and she’ll carry on writing into the 1640s, but it’s The Nobility and Excellence of Women that she’ll largely be remembered for, and it’s her most clearly identifiable philosophical work.

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Anne Arbuthnot, Philosopher

The problem with trying to introduce people to Anne Arbuthnot as a philosopher is that the most obvious route of introduction is through her aunt, Catharine Trotter Cockburn (1674/9-1749), and most people haven’t heard of her either. Cockburn, however, is very much established as a member of an alternative canon of early modern philosophy – that consisting of a variety of women philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries including Elisabeth of Bohemia, Anne Conway, Margaret Cavendish, Damaris Masham and Mary Astell in their number. While obscure in a general sense, she is very much a known name in the field. (She’s also studied by literary historians on account of her role as a female Restoration playwright and poet.) Anne Arbuthnot, though, is not.

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