Establishing a female intellectual identity in Early modern Denmark: Birgitte Thott’s Seneca translation (1658) in a European perspective

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This article explores Birgitte Thott’s (1610-1662) intellectual identity by investigating the paratexts to her translation of Seneca’s philosophical works (1658) in a European context. Written partly by Thott herself and partly by other scholars, these texts assisted in creating Thott’s public persona and in establishing Thott as a female intellectual in early modern Denmark.
As there was a certain tension for female intellectuals between participating in the public sphere and living up to the gender norms of their times, it was difficult for them to become recognized as a public figure. While Thott is praised by others as an exception, Thott herself developed different strategies to address the tensions between traditional gender roles and her intellectual activities. In an unconventional way, Thott dedicated her work to women, aiming at a broad consent in society for female learning and encouraging other women to follow her example. She presented her own work as a serious contribution to the Christian tradition of engaging with Stoic philosophy.
This article contributes to mapping the development of a female intellectual identity during the early modern period by focusing on a geographical region that is often overlooked in research about the topic.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrbis Litterarum
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)14-29
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2024

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - Birgitte Thott, female intellectual identity, Denmark, Stoic philosophy, early modern, women philosophers

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