Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines

Volume 32, Issue 1, Spring 2021

Laura Talamante, Jasmine Abang
Pages 37-59

Education During the Enlightenment: Women Engaging Critical Inquiry

Until the late seventeenth-century, French women had limited access to education. This article explores the openings that the Enlightenment provided for reconceptualizing women’s education, and how women used their roles as salonnières and novelists to challenge gendered educational limits. Using the lenses of education and gender norms, we highlight women’s intellectual contributions to the French Enlightenment and the history of ideas and emphasize the role of critical thinking in creating gender equality. With this scholarship, we encourage students to reflect on the history of the Enlightenment and the importance of reading, writing, and critical thinking for tackling present issues of discrimination. Furthermore, for educators, we challenge them to see the benefits of centering marginalized voices in the history of the Enlightenment for what those voices offer, engaging students in critical thinking and education and addressing equity and social justice for both individuals and society at large.