94769 - History of Women's Political Thought (1)

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Gender equality

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students should have acquired the general knowledge to frame women’s political thought within the historical contexts in which it is embeddded, and in relation to the main theoretical and conceptual issues discussed by modern and contemporary political doctrines. The course allows the students to detect and analyse both the political problems enumerated by women’s political thought, and the way in which it has been affected by the most important social and institutional changes from the early modern to the global age, including its main theoretical developments. The knowledge acquired during the course enables the students to apply the instruments necessary for analysis of classical texts and to develop a critical-methodological approach useful for the analysis of theoretical issues and for understanding of the political and social implications of their judgements. They will also have learnt to listen, understand and debate respectfully with different cultures and viewpoints, spotting the tie-ups among different disciplines.

Course contents

The course introduces students to the knowledge of the work of some of the women protagonists of the history of political thought in a time span ranging from the Middle Ages to the Global age, on the possible reasons and methods of their exclusion from the "canon" of that history and on the way in which they redefine its contents and meanings. In particular, the course will focus on the way in which women have articulated, criticized and put in tension the main modern political concepts (virtue, nature, domination, individual, woman, man, state, sovereignty, rights, democracy, society, work, freedom, equality and difference, citizenship, order, revolution) and on the relationship of their reflection with the development of feminist political theory and with the main modern and contemporary political doctrines (republicanism, liberalism, Marxism, neoliberalism).



Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending. In addition to the texts listed in section A (all of them), attending students must choose one of the texts or groups of texts listed in section B of the bibliography.


— Paola Rudan, Donna. Storia e critica di un concetto polemico, Bologna, Il Mulino, in corso di pubblicazione (dicembre 2019).

— Johan W. Scott, Il 'genere': un'utile categoria di analisi storica, in J.W. Scott, Genere, politica, storia, Roma, Viella, 2013, pp. 31-63.

— Roberta Ferrari ‒ Eleonora Cappuccilli, Il discorso femminista. Storia e critica del canone politico moderno, in «Scienza &Politica» 2016, vol. XXVIII, n. 54, pp. 5-20.


1) Christine de Pizan, La città delle Dame, a cura di Patrizia Caraffi, Edizione di Earl Jeffrey Richards, Roma, Carocci, 2014.

2) Margaret Cavendish, Il mondo sfavillante, introduzione, traduzione e note a cura di Maria Grazia Nicolosi, Catania, CUECM, 2008.

3) Mary Astell, Reflections upon Marriage (1700), in M. Astell, Political Writings, ed. by P. Springborg, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996, pp. 1-80.

4) Mary Wollstonecraft, I diritti delle donne, Roma, Edizioni Q, 2008 (o altre edizioni).


— Sarah M. Grimké, Poco meno degli angeli: lettere sull'uguaglianza dei sessi, a cura di Thomas Casadei, Roma, Castelvecchi, 2016.

— Anna Julia Cooper, A Voice from the South, in The Voice of Anna Julia Cooper, ed. by Charles Lemert ‒ Esme Bhan, Lanham – Boulder – New York – Toronto – Oxford, Rowman & Littlefield, 1998, pp. 45-196

6) Emma Goldman, Femminismo e anarchia, prefazione di Bruna Bianchi, Pisa, BFS, 2009.

7) Simone de Beauvoir, Il secondo sesso (1949), Milano, Il Saggiatore, 1999 (students must agree with the teacher on the parts to be studied).


— Carla Lonzi, Sputiamo su Hegel; La donna clitoridea e la donna vaginale e altri scritti, Milano, Edizioni Rivolta femminile, 1970.

— Mariarosa Dalla Costa, Potere femminile e sovversione sociale (1972), Venezia, Marsilio, 1974.

9) bell hooks, Elogio del margine: razza, sesso e mercato culturale, Milano, Feltrinelli, 1998.


— Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Femminismo senza frontiere. Teoria, differenze, conflitti, introduzione e cura di Raffaella Baritono, Verona, ombre corte, 2012.

— Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Critica della ragione postcoloniale, Roma, Meltemi, 2004, pp. 293-321.


In addition to the texts listed in section A (all), students should choose two of the texts or groups of texts listed in section B of the bibliography.

Teaching methods

Lectures with reading and commentary of texts.

Assessment methods

Oral examination aimed at testing the skills and knowledge acquired, with particular attention to the ability to focus on the theoretical-conceptual links between the thought of the authors studied.

The assessment will concentrate particularly on the skill displayed by the student in handling the sources and material in the exam bibliography and his ability to find and use information and examples to illustrate and correlate the various themes and problems addressed in the course and discussed during the frontal lectures (only for attending students). It will be also assessed the capacity of a student to display an overall understanding of the topics discussed during the lectures, combined with a critical approach to the material and a confident and effective use of the appropriate terminology.

The assessment will thus examine the student's:

— factual knowledge of the subject;

— ability to summarise and analyse themes and concepts;

— familiarity with the terminology associated with the subject and his ability to use it effectively.

Proper language, factual knowledge of the subject and the ability to both expose synthetically and critically speak about the choosen topic or the contents of the chosen texts will lead to a good/excellent final grade

Acceptable language and the ability to resume the contents of the chosen texts will lead to a sufficient/fair grade.

Insufficient linguistic proficiency and fragmentary knowledge of the chosen topic or the contents of the chosen texts will lead to a failure in passing the exam.

Teaching tools

Power point (uploaded on virtuale)

Office hours

See the website of Paola Rudan