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Whether a Christian Woman Should Be Educated and Other Writings from Her Intellectual Circle

Edited and Translated by Joyce L. Irwin
Advocate and exemplar of women’s education, female of aristocratic birth and modest demeanor, Anna Maria van Schurman (1607-1678) was one of Reformation Europe’s most renowned writers defending women’s intelligence. From her early teens, Schurman garnered recognition and admiration for her accomplishments in languages, philosophy, poetry, and painting. As an adult she actively engaged in written correspondence and debate with Europe’s leading intellectuals. Nevertheless, Schurman refused to regard herself as an anomaly among women. A supporter of the female sex, she argues that the same rigorous education that shaped her should be made available to all Christian daughters of the aristocracy.

Gathered here in meticulous translation are Anna Maria van Schurman’s defense of women’s education, her letters to other learned women, and her own account of her early life, as well as responses to her work from male contemporaries, and rare writings by Schurman’s mentor, Voetius. This volume will interest the general reader as well as students of women’s, religious, and social history.

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Series
Introduction: Anna Maria van Schurman and Her Intellectual Circle
Selections from the Writings of Anna Maria van Schurman
A Practical Problem: Whether the Study of Letters Is Fitting for a Christian Woman
Correspondence with Andre Rivet on this Question
Correspondence with Other Women
Eukleria, chapters 1 and 2
Concerning Women
Gisbertus Voetius
Ch. I: The Natural Status and Condition of Women
Ch. II: The Secular and Political Status of Women
Ch. III: The Spiritual and Ecclesiastical Status of Women

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