Evelyn Fox Keller
One of my proudest achievements was the organization of the Boston Area Colloquium on Feminist Theory (BACFT) at Northeastern University in the early 1980s. It was the high point of feminist theory, and I still feel the pride I felt then when I recall the brilliance, the excitement, the enthusiasm, and the intellectual courage of the wonderful women we brought together. The early 1980s provided an ideal context for such a venture: feminist theory was then just beginning to provide the provocatively original perspective on the world for which it has since become famous. Much of the early work grew out of three simple questions: (1) How have the ways in which we frame our (natural, social, political) worlds been shaped by metaphors of gender? (2) How have our various intellectual histories been shaped by their entwinement with ideologies of gender? (3) How might our understanding of history, philosophy, literature, politics, science, etc., be different under the rule of alternative parsings of gender, or in a gender-free mental landscape? The creativity unleashed by such questions was astonishing, and the interest and enthusiasm generated explosive. The speakers brought in for the seminars and conferences convened by the BACFT routinely drew overflow crowds, coming both from the many universities in the Boston area and from the ranks of unaffiliated scholars and artists. Indeed, these colloquia almost immediately became a must for virtually everyone interested in feminist theory in the Boston area.
Evelyn Fox Keller was a Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at MIT. She attended Brandeis University for her undergraduate studies and earned her Ph.D. from Harvard in theoretical physics. Previously, Keller taught at Northeastern University, SUNY Purchase, NYU, and UC Berkeley. A pioneering scholar in the issues of gender and science, Keller wrote several books, including: Secrets of Life/Secrets of Death: Essays on Language, Gender and Science and Reflections on Gender and Science. Additionally, she co-edited Feminism and Science and Body Politics: Women and the Discourse of Science. Keller sat on the editorial boards of several journals, such as Biology and Philosophy and the Journal of the History of Biology, and frequently wrote articles on topics such as feminism, science, gender, and nature. She died on September 22, 2023.