McGrath Institute seminar will explore "The Concept of Woman"

By William G. Schmitt

The Concept of WomanThe Concept of Woman

A tribute to a monumental achievement of historical and philosophical scholarship will address some of the most compelling topics in everyday life when the McGrath Institute for Church Life sponsors a day-long seminar titled “The Concept of Woman” on Friday, Oct. 26.

The Concept of Woman is the name of a three-volume work by the distinguished philosopher Sister Mary Prudence Allen, R.S.M., Ph.D., who will be the seminar’s keynote speaker. A multi-disciplinary group of experts in areas such as feminism, gender complementarity, and the theology of the body will also explore themes from the author’s lifetime research.

Talks will be interspersed with discussions throughout the day, probing Sister Allen’s insights into the philosophical development of the concept of women. Registration at the McGrath Institute’s website is free of charge but required. The event will take place at McKenna Hall, starting at 8:30 a.m. and concluding at 5:15 p.m. with Mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

Pope Francis appointed Sister Allen among the 40 philosophers and theologians named to the International Theological Commission in 2014. She is now based at the University of Lancaster in England after her years as a professor at Concordia University and the Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary. A member of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan, she holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from
Claremont Graduate School in California.

Sister Allen, who completed her series with the publication of a third volume in 2016, will be joined by distinguished speakers including Ann Astell, Peter Casarella, Sarah Borden Sharkey, William Sweet, and Katharina Westerhorstmann.

“This seminar is important for anyone who is interested in serious conversations about the theory of gender and contemporary issues related to women,” said Jessica Keating, M.Div., program director in the Notre Dame Office of Life and Human Dignity at the McGrath Institute. “The sharing of insights will go beyond entrenched ways of thinking about women and society.”

Sister Allen’s research has traced the development of the concept of woman from early Greek thought to current philosophy. The seminar, sponsored by the McGrath Institute and the Office of Life and Human Dignity, aims to assess the significance and impact of her groundbreaking work.