Rosa Skytt Burr

Rosa Skytt Burr

PhD fellow

Current research

My Ph.D. project is part of the research project  Archeology of the Female Intellectual Identity (Denmark and Germany, 1650-1800), led by my supervisor Sabrina Ebbersmeyer, which investigates the formation of the female intellectual identity in early modern Northern Europe.

Currently, my research explores the work and reception of the Danish philosopher and translator of Seneca, Birgitte Thott (1610-1662). Although widely known in her own time, she has been completely overlooked by modern historians of philosophy. I am particularly interested in Thott as a contributor to and an object of the early modern Danish querelle des femmes. The intersection of her own work on women and her reception can be found, I argue, in their shared concern with the intellectual limits of the female sex.

Thott’s ideas and arguments were rarely, if ever, taken up in the 17th and 18th centuries. Instead, her reception is mostly filled with depictions of her person as the Latin trope supra sexum, meaning “beyond [her] sex”. I use this fascinating trope and its logic – that the female sex is unlearned and any learned woman must therefore have transcended the epistemological limits of her sex – as a starting point in my analysis of Thott’s own proto-feminist defense of women’s access to education from her “Dedicatio,” a preface to her renowned translation of Seneca (1658) as well as the unpublished treatise On the Path to a Happy Life (c. 1659).

With a basis in critical feminist historiography, I explore how Danish female intellectuals were imagined during this consequential period in the history of philosophy and bring out some of the mechanisms through which academia, reason and philosophy has been defined as beyond the limits of the female sex.

Fields of interest

  • Birgitte Thott’s (1610-1662) philosophy, proto-feminism, and reception
  • 17th and 18th century philosophy and proto-feminism in Denmark-Norway
  • History of philosophy, race, sexuality, and gender
  • Early modern philosophy
  • Feminist philosophy and historiography
  • Continental philosophy, esp. necropolitics, feminationalism, and racism

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