Women and Gender Seminar: Kimberly Hamlin, Miami University of Ohioo

Friday, February 20, 2009

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Women and Gender Seminar

“When Women’s Rights Activists Embraced Darwin: the Evolutionary Feminism of Antoinette Brown Blackwell and Elizabeth Cady Stanton”
Kimberly Hamlin, Miami University of Ohio
“What would be the tragedy in the garden of Eden to a generation of scientific women?” pondered Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1891. Rather than debate the significance of Adam and Eve, “scientific women” would “relegate the allegory to the same class of literature as Aesop’s fables.” Like Stanton, several nineteenth-century feminists embraced evolution because they thought it provided a better forum than religion for understanding gender. This essay tells the story of these evolutionary feminists and suggests that evolutionary theory altered the trajectory of the women’s rights movement by prompting activists to reassess the place of religion within it.

Commentator: Genevieve McBride, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee