April 19, 2022

Alternative Narratives with Helen Lewis and Christia Mercer

Entre Nous
Online Event
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In Difficult Women, writer and journalist Helen Lewis explores the complexities, incoherencies, and bad behavior across a history of feminism.

Rejecting the contemporary taste for feel-good stories of perfect heroines, Lewis lands on hard questions: When does the harm outweigh the good? How can we measure the moral sum of a person? And, now free from the grip of the one-dimensional ‘badass babe’ trope, where can contemporary feminism take us?

Continuing her research on forgotten women, Lewis’ new radio program, Great Wives, looks at the spouses of history’s most famous geniuses. How have men consistently attained the status of “genius,” while women have remained (by their side) wives? Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University Christia Mercer has done similar work uncovering forgotten voices and destabilizing the mythology of genius. From Spanish mysticism to 17th-century Neoplatonism, Mercer’s research in overlooked women complicates the legend of modern philosophy’s origins and most famous contributors. Join these two authors as they discuss their work on changing the historical record and seeking alternative narratives for the history of thought and action.

About the speakers:

Helen Lewis is an author and journalist. A staff writer at The Atlantic, Lewis is also the former deputy editor of the New Statesman and has written for The Guardian and The Sunday Times. She was appointed 2018-19 Women in the Humanities Honorary Writing Fellow at Oxford University, and serves on the advisory board for the Reuters Institute for Journalism at Oxford. Lewis is the creator of the longform Radio 4 interview series The Spark (2019).

Christia Mercer is the Gustave M. Berne Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. A specialist in early modern philosophy, Platonism, and philosophy and gender, Mercer founded and acts as Director of the Center for New Narratives in Philosophy at Columbia. She served as the 2019-20 President of the American Philosophical Association. Mercer is the editor of Oxford Philosophical Concepts and co-edits Oxford New Histories of Philosophy.

Co-organized by:


This conversation is part of the Entre Nous series organized in partnership with the The American Library in Paris and Columbia Global Centers | Paris.

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