​Public and Private: Feminism, Marriage, and Family in Political Thought and Contemporary Life

Jean Bethke Elshtain: The Engaged Mind

Public and Private: 
Feminism, Marriage, and Family in Political Thought and Contemporary Life

The first of four conferences in the series “The Engaged Mind,” reflecting on themes drawn from the work of Jean Bethke Elshtain. Sponsored by the McDonald Agape Foundation.

February 25-26, 2010 
3rd Floor Lecture Hall 
Divinity School 
University of Chicago

Conference Overview

This cross-disciplinary conference will bring senior scholars and major thinkers together to discuss the “Elshtainian” themes of the boundaries of public and private, the ethical and normative bases of family and polity, and the limits and fragility of the human condition. Because her work traverses so many areas of endeavor, Elshtain has been variously identified as an historian, a psychologist, a sociologist, a philosopher, a “radical” feminist or a “conservative” feminist, a family scholar, and a bio-ethicist. This first conference in the series will focus primarily on her early career with her first book, Public Man, Private Woman: Women in Social and Political Thought, as the centerpiece. (Named by Choice as one of the top academic books of 1981, Public Man, Private Woman, now in a second edition, has been in print for 28 years.)

Through a series of panels, the speakers will take up multiple understandings of public and private, examining how the boundaries between them have shifted over time. They will address the ways in which Elshtain’s thought has contributed to the wider scholarly and civic conversation. As distinguished scholars in their own right, contributors will present their reflections on the conference theme based on their own areas of expertise. We anticipate a lively discussion as Professor Elshtain responds to each panel and offers her own comments at the close of the conference.

Confirmed participants: 

John Witte, Jr., Emory University, will give the keynote address. Jean Bethke Elshtain will offer a response and closing comments on Friday afternoon.

For more information, contact the conference coordinator, Debra Erickson, at engagedmind@gmail.com.