In our latest episode of Ideas in Progress, host Dr. Anthony Comegna holds a follow-up interview with IHS President and CEO, Dr. Emily Chamlee-Wright, who recently returned from an IHS Discussion Colloquium (DC) on women in the intellectual classical liberal tradition.
Eager to hear her perspective on the program and how the discussion impacted and broadened attending scholars’ ideas, Dr. Comegna opens with a question on how we best can understand the authors Isabel Paterson, Rose Wilder Lane, and Ayn Rand for today.
“One of the things that’s just incredible is that 1943 represented the year that each of their—at that point—major works came out,” Dr. Chamlee-Wright states. “And that seems to me to be something of a watershed moment where we have these three classical liberal scholars making arguments with a different tone and different points of view, different genres, but really coalescing around these ideas.”
She speculates about the importance of that particular year, 1943, and how the colloquium provided her an opportunity to recognize that these forerunners were coming from a similar place and how that place shaped the overall arch of women writers within the classical liberal tradition.
“By the time we get to Paterson, and Rand, and Wilder Lane, they’re less focused on specifically the rights of women, and they’re more focused on, frankly, topics like economic freedom, which is really interesting to me, and one of the things that you just have to look at is what’s the timeframe in which these women are writing?” Dr. Chamlee-Wright elaborates. “These are post Industrial Revolution thinkers, and they benefited from all of the social and economic benefits of the Industrial Revolution, and that puts them as female thinkers, and writers, in a very different position than the Early Modern writers that we talked about last time.”
From there, the conversation takes a deeper exploration into the DC’s featured writers, including comparing and contrasting their ideas, writing style, and additional works.