Sina Menke New Voices Research Profile

I have received my Master’s Degree at the University College London in 2019 and have since started working on my PhD at the University of Marburg.

My current research is based upon the assumption that Utopias have always been ways for authors to reflect on their respective times and thus on society, politics, and possible futures. They are not necessarily a proposal for the future, but rather a kind of alternative to the current state, in which the interpretation is left entirely to the reader. Utopian literature thus automatically has a critical function, questioning the current state as perceived by the author. Thus, they are interesting for historians and philosophers alike, as they not only show alternative drafts of a certain time, but very specifically they enable a kind of contemporary witness report of the authors.

My research aims to show that women’s utopias must be read as such and not just, as is often the case, as theological treatises or romances, since the authors’ reflections not only shed light on the situation of women writers in the early modern period, but also help to understand why and for what purpose they wrote utopias in the first place. The aim is to show that even if the main theme of many utopias written by women is their own negotiation of the contemporary gender hierarchy, they equally fulfil the criteria of utopia and thus must be read as such. The sources used in this project are Christine de Pizan’s La Cité des Dames, Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World, Eliza Fowler Haywood’s Memoirs of a certain Island, Françoise de Graffigny’s Lettres d’une Péruvienne and Teresa of Ávila’s Las Moradas.


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