February 9, 2007 – Marilyn Frye, one of the founders of feminist philosophy in the United States and professor and associate chair of the philosophy department at MSU, is Phi Beta Kappa’s Romanell Professor in Philosophy for 2007-2008.
Awarded annually, the Romanell Professorship recognizes distinguished achievement and substantial contribution to the public understanding of philosophy. Phi Beta Kappa provides a $7,500 stipend to supplement the awardee’s salary, and the professor gives a series of three special lectures open to their institution’s academic community and the general public.
“I am glad that the Romanell lectures are given on the recipient’s home campus.” Frye said. “I am glad to bring this honor to MSU. We do so much good work here, and we don’t often have such an opportunity to celebrate it.”
Frye’s lecture series will be titled “Kinds of People: Ontology and Politics.”
“People reject ‘being labeled’,” Frye explained, “and sometimes that’s more than justified. But humans make and need structured social environments, which means we are organized into kinds or categories; it can’t be avoided.”
J.B. Schneewind, professor emeritus of philosophy at Johns Hopkins University and a judge on the Romanell committee, observed that “Marilyn Frye has long been noted for her ability to show how apparently gender-neutral conceptual structures bias our understanding of issues concerning gender.”
“She is unequalled in her ability to suggest ways in which these structures might be altered to avoid their sexist implications, and to draw out the bearing of her suggestions on practical issues of gender inequality,” Schneewind added. Frye’s first book, The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory (The Crossing Press, 1983), is considered a classic in the field. She has been a Rockefeller Fellow and a National Humanities Center Fellow and was named Distinguished Woman Philosopher of the Year by the Society for Women in Philosophy in 2001.