“The nineteenth century has been prolific of candidates for discovery as women philosophers. Ednah Dow Cheney, Julia Ward Howe, Lydia Maria Child, Marietta Kies, Susan Blow, Anna Brackett, Grace Bibb, Ellen Mitchell, Lucia Ames Mead, Eliza Sunderland, Ella Lyman Cabot, Emma Lazarus, Zitkala-Sa, Anna Julia Cooper, Julia Gulliver, Antoinette Brown Blackwell, Christine Ladd-Franklin, are just some of the figures whom scholars have brought back to academic attention since the feminist movement arrived in philosophy.”
Carol Bensick received her B. A. from Wellesley College in 1977, double-majoring in European History and English, and her Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1982 in English, specializing in canonical American Literary and Intellectual History and the European Novel to 1914. From 1982 to 1998, she was an Assistant Professor successively at the University of Denver, the University of Oregon, and the University of California, Riverside, as well as a Visiting Assistant Professor in several Summer Sessions at Cornell and UCLA.
While teaching, lecturing, and publishing articles and reviews and a book in her field of training at Denver, an interest in feminism began to awaken; then, while she was at Oregon, an old interest in philosophy. In her second year at Riverside, she began quietly to investigate the world of academic philosophy. After 10 years at Riverside, she welcomed a disability retirement in order to pursue creative activities for several years. In 2001 she resumed her exploration into philosophy, this time with the specific intent to connect it to gender. She first studied British philosopher Harriet Taylor Mill, but in due time, Bensick elected to take advantage of her excellent Americanist training and settled on studying Julia Ward Howe. Over the years she joined the Society for the Study of Women Philosophers, the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, and the American Philosophical Association. Under these auspices she gave papers exploring Dewey’s judgment of Jane Addams, James’s relationships with women students and colleagues, and the forgotten nineteenth-century immigrant philosopher of German Idealism Amalie Hathaway.
She is preparing to give a paper on Julia Ward Howe’s later career called “From Private Student to Public Philosopher” at the Summer Institute for American Philosophy. She is waiting to learn if her abstract on “A Southern Woman Philosopher: Sarah A. Dorsey’s 1874 Lectures to the New Orleans Academy for the Sciences” has been accepted. Lexington Press has expressed interest in a monograph from her on Julia Ward Howe. Her current larger project is called “The Submerged Philosophical Career of Julia Ward Howe.” After this she looks forward to settling down to work on to Dorsey and her fellow contemporary philosophical Southern women novelists Catherine Warfield and Augusta Jane Evans Wilson.