Hilary Ilkay New Voices Research Profile

My research focuses on the reception of ancient philosophy, especially Plato’s dialogues, in the Renaissance and early modern period, but also through to the contemporary world. I’m especially interested in how women have historically looked to the figure of Diotima in Plato’s Symposium and cited her for various reasons in their own work: as a model of wisdom, as proof that women should be educated, as an intellectual foremother, as a transgressive disruptor of patriarchy, or as a victim of patriarchal violence and appropriation. I also explore the development of the reception of Diotima in particular from antiquity through to modern scholarship; this was the subject of my MA thesis, which I completed at the New School for Social Research, and I hope to adapt it into an article and, eventuallly, into a manuscript. In tracing this trajectory, I situate Diotima among mythological, literary, and historical women figures to get a sense of the broader
context in which various receptions of her appear, and I question whether interpretations of her role in Plato’s dialogue are influenced by gender. My research incorporates not only texts, but visual art, as a way to understand how learned women were being depicted in various media in the 15th-17th centuries.

Contact: hilary.ilkay@gmail.com

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