Geertje Bol

Research Topic:

Mary Astell and Catharine Macaulay: Virtue, Politics and Partisanship
Political Theory Network
Oriel College
DPhil Politics

I'm a DPhil student in political theory, more specifically in the history of political thought. Previously I completed an MPhil in Philosophy at the University of St Andrews, where I conducted research into the correspondence between Maria von Herbert and Immanuel Kant, touching upon the relationship between meaning, happiness and morality. I'm interested in women in the history of philosophy and political thought, early modern moral and political philosophy, and the the role partisanship plays in conceptions of the political.

Given the fact that histories of party and partisanship have tended to focus on men, in my doctoral research I privilege the perspective of women on partisanship and virtuous political participation in eighteenth-century England. Particularly, I look at Mary Astell and Catharine Macaulay, who were political theorists and partisans. While solutions to the "problem" of partisanship today are often grounded in notions of civic friendship––an idea which can be traced back to Cicero, Burke and Hume––the lives and thought of Astell and Macaulay present an alternative. They argued that partisanship as friendship would only lead to faction, and instead reimagined virtuous partisanship as grounded in frank disagreement and zealous evangelising, combined with toleration of and engagement with one’s political opponents. My research suggests, when looking to history for insights into the pressing political problems of today, we can learn far more from Astell and Macaulay than from Burke or Hume.


My research interests include:

  • Political Theory,

  • Gender,

  • Education,

  • Feminism,

  • Political Parties,

  • Religion


I am available for teaching the courses Plato to Rousseau, Feminist Theory and Theory of Politics.