-The Metaphysics of Sex and Gender-


2019 Summer Seminar: August 5 -11

Questions surrounding sex, gender, sexual equality, and freedom are especially fraught these days, both personally and politically. By exploring the metaphysical and philosophical roots of these questions in the Western tradition, we seek to get behind the polemics to understand better the questions themselves. Can we prescind from sex and gender and say anything true about the human person per se? How are body and soul connected and what role does sex and gender play therein? What does reproductive asymmetry mean for sexual equality and freedom, both historically and today? Do ancient and medieval thinkers have anything to teach moderns (and post-moderns) about how to think through these questions?

We will read and discuss:

  • Plato and Aristotle

  • Hildegard of Bingen and Thomas Aquinas

  • Christine de Pizan and Rene Descartes

  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Mary Wollstonecraft, Abigail Adams, and Alexis de Tocqueville

  • John Stuart Mill, Francis Willard, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman

  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Jane Addams, and Florence Kelley

  • Dorothy Sayers, Margaret Sanger, and Betty Frieda

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Catherine MacKinnon, and Shulamith Firestone

  • Judith Butler, Edith Stein, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Mary Ann Glendon, and Prudence Allen


Location: The Seminar will take place in Harvard University's Center for Government and International Studies - 1737 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA, USA


Meals: Breakfast and Lunch will be provided at the Seminar and dinner will be provided on three separate nights: first evening together, at the end of an optional social outing and on the last evening together.

Cost: A $500 registration fee is requested for overhead purposes and represents a small fraction of the true cost of the program. Reading material will be made available free of charge to the accepted applicants at least a month before the seminar.

Who Should Apply?

The seminar is open to advanced undergraduates (including graduating seniors),  graduate students and professionals with interests in (), (), and ().

  1. Send the following to director@AAICambridge.org:

    • Cover letter discussing the reasons for your interest in the seminar and an overview of any relevant experience in the seminar’s topic.

    • A writing sample of up to 2,000 words.

  2. Arrange to have a faculty member familiar with your academic work send a short letter of recommendation to director@AAICambridge.org

The application deadline for the seminar is April 4, 2019. Applicants can expect to receive a decision by April 25, 2018.

Only after the applicant's acceptance to the Seminar has been confirmed will he/she be instructed to pay the US$500 registration fee.

About the Seminar Experience

 - Seminar Faculty - 

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Dr. Erika Bachiochi

Erika Bachiochi is a Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a Research Fellow at AAI. In 2018, she was a Visiting Scholar at Harvard Law School under the faculty supervision of Mary Ann Glendon. A noted legal scholar and leading pro-life feminist thinker, Erika has published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Christian Bioethics (Oxford University), First Things, CNN, National Review Online, Claremont Review of Books, SCOTUSblog, and Public Discourse. She is also the editor of two books and is completing an intellectual history of the cause for women’s rights.


Dr. Angela Franks -St. John’s Seminary-

Angela Franks, Ph.D. is a theologian, teacher, speaker, and writer. She serves as Professor of Theology at the Theological Institute for the New Evangelization at St. John's Seminary in Boston and is a Faculty Fellow at AAI. She has published in The Thomist, Nova et Vetera, and the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, as well as America Magazine, First Things, Public Discourse, Church Life Journal, and The Plough, in addition to contributing chapters to edited books. She has written two books on sexual ethics and the history of eugenics, and she is currently focused on bringing key ideas in contemporary Continental philosophy into conversation with the Catholic intellectual tradition. Her writings can be found at www.AngelaFranks.com


- Questions - 

If you have any questions about the seminar or the application process please do not hesitate to send your queries to director@AAICambridge.org