Engendering Modernity: Epicurean Women from Lucretius to Rousseau

Natania Meeker

in Dynamic Reading

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199794959
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949694 | DOI:

Series: Classical Presences

Engendering Modernity: Epicurean Women from Lucretius to Rousseau

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In “Engendering Modernity: Epicurean Women from Lucretius to Rousseau,” Natania Meeker analyzes the role played by women in the figuration of Epicurean subjectivity in the writings of Rousseau as he seeks to envision a new political and social order for revolutionary France. For Rousseau, Meeker argues, women stand at the intersection of Epicureanism and a voluptuous modernity; they are subjects naturally in thrall to pleasures that refuse to yield to the discipline of reason. Women make visible the need for ideological controls that acknowledge the power of pleasure without allowing it to destabilize the social order. Rousseau thus deploys the figure of the Epicurean woman, Meeker points out, as the foil that allows the male subject to “imagine [himself] as free.”

Keywords: Rousseau; Lucretius; gender; sexuality; pleasure

Chapter.  12093 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical Philosophy

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