On October 24, 2016, the Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists (HWPS) officially opened its doors to the public. Flanked by the Secretary for Science NRW, Svenja Schulze, colleagues from Turkey and the United States, and Prof. Dr. Elisabeth de Sotelo from the DAB, the director of the Center, Prof. Dr. Ruth Hagengruber, unveiled her vision for the Center HWPS. The grand opening of the Center was a time to celebrate both the founding of the Center, which is financially supported by the Ministry of Science and Culture of North Rhine-Westphalia, and its promise for the future.
Since the opening, a team of six researchers with a wide array of expertise have come to work at the Center. Their research ranges from figures such as Émilie Du Châtelet, Maria Gaetana Agnesi, and Hildegard von Bingen, to Hannah Arendt, and the early women phenomenologists. At the Center, researchers have the opportunity to explore, discuss, and present the contributions made by women in the history of philosophy and science; thinkers whose works are often overlooked and underrepresented in the philosophical canon. The Center and its members organize and host lecture series, conferences, and intensive Summer and Autumn Schools, each boasting strong international participation and recognition. These activities are a testament to the fruitful exchange of ideas within the Center. First steps have been taken to establish a digital library and archive dedicated to the writings of women intellectuals through history, and the Center has already gone online at their homepage http://hwps.de, were anyone can learn about the events and projects of the Center.
In April 2017, the Center HWPS – in collaboration with the Société de Philosophie de Langue Francaise en Allemagne – organized and hosted the Époque Émilienne: a trilingual, international congress on the works and reception of the philosopher Émilie Du Châtelet. In addition to the numerous plenary lectures by world-renowned scholars, parallel sessions were held which gave the ever-growing circle of junior researchers a much-needed venue to present their work on women in the history of philosophy.
The first year was crowned by the international Libori Summer School. This was held at the end of the summer term, during the traditional Libori festivities of the city of Paderborn. Some 40 international students chose from a program of parallel intensive courses on women in Medieval and Renaissance philosophy, Du Châtelet’s philosophy, women in the early phenomenological movement, and the new research area “misandry” – represented by the writings of Helene von Druskowitz. Framed by evening events in the ambience of the historic Deelenhaus, and accompanied by evening lectures by professors from Tel-Aviv, Harvard, and the director of the Center, Prof. Dr. Ruth Hagengruber, the Libori Summer School was a great success for both the teachers involved and the local and international students in attendance.
Although the achievements of the first year of the Center HWPS exceeded expectations, it is only a first step in the progressive establishment of research topics, international academic networks, digital resources and infrastructures, and international exchanges devoted to the study of the history of women in philosophy and science, and in establishing the Center HWPS as a world-class institute for this burgeoning field.
(NC / JH / JL / RP)