UNT guest lecturer to discuss 18th century women's rights activist

Dr. Megan Conway
Dr. Megan Conway, professor of French at Louisiana State University in Shreveport, will speak at UNT on March 31, 2011. Conway's lecture, entitled Olympe De Gouges: A Feminist's Passionate Path to the Guillotine, is sponsored by the UNT Department of History as part of the university's observance of Women's History Month.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What: Olympe de Gouges: A Feminist's Passionate Path to the Guillotine -- A lecture at the University of North Texas by Dr. Megan Conway, professor of French at Louisiana State University in Shreveport. Sponsored by the UNT Department of History as part of the university's observance of Women's History Month

When: 6 p.m. March 31 (Thursday)

Where: Room 225 of UNT's Eagle Student Services Center, located across from the Willis Library between Avenues A and C (1147 Union Circle)

Cost: Free

Contact: UNT Department of History at 940-565-2288

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- During the French Revolution, a butcher's daughter turned political activist championed equality for women, the rights of illegitimate children and freedom for slaves.

In celebration of Women's History Month at the University of North Texas, Dr. Megan Conway, professor of French at Louisiana State University in Shreveport, will discuss the life of Olympe de Gouges, an 18th century French playwright, political activist, abolitionist and feminist.

Olympe de Gouges: A Feminist's Passionate Path to the Guillotine begins at 6 p.m. March 31 (Thursday) in Room 225 of UNT's Eagle Student Services Center, located across from the Willis Library between Avenues A and C (1147 Union Circle). The free lecture is sponsored by the UNT Department of History, and it is a part of UNT's observance of Women's History Month in March. A question-and-answer session will follow.

Conway's presentation will highlight the feminist principles of de Gouges, who protested against the French government, organized clubs and parades, and wrote newspaper articles, plays, about 70 political pamphlets and a 500-page novel. Conway is writing the first English-language biography of de Gouges, using information gathered from rare book libraries in the United States and France over the past 12 years.

De Gouges is best known for writing the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and Citizenesses, which acted as a counterpoint to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen. The document includes her idea for a marriage contract, gender equality in marriage and the right to divorce. De Gouges' socially advanced ideas were not accepted by the government or many women, and she was beheaded by the guillotine in 1793 during France's Reign of Terror.

"For example, she thought that there should be shelters for orphans, widows and the unemployed," said Conway. "Many of her ideas have turned into reality today, regarding taxation and prostitution. She is the embodiment of ‘to thine own self be true,' and she believed in her ideals so much that she died for them."

Conway is the editor of the Sixteenth Century French Writers volume of the Dictionary of Literary Biography series. She has presented dozens of conference papers and authored numerous articles and is the Foreign Literature Editor for Discoveries, an online Renaissance journal, and a member of the editorial board of 1650-1850:  Ideas, Aesthetics, and Inquiries in the Early Modern Era.

Conway has received a scholarship from the French government to study business in France, a Fulbright scholarship to Japan, two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is a recipient of a Greater China Business Initiative Grant. She was awarded an Outstanding Faculty Award from the LSU-Shreveport Student Government Association and two professorships for excellence in teaching. Conway received her doctoral degree from Tulane University where she specialized in French Renaissance poetry.

For more information, contact the UNT Department of History at 940-565-2288.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

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