Fellows of Senate

Jean Curthoys

Jean Curthoys was a Fellow of Senate elected by the students 1973–1974.


BA Sydney
Fellow of Senate 1973 - 1974

Jean Curthoys was born in Broken Hill, NSW in 1947, the daughter of Geoffrey and Barbara Curthoys, leading members of the Communist Party of Australia.

She studied science and philosophy at the University of Sydney, graduating BA in 1971 and elected a Fellow of Senate by the postgraduate students 1973–1974.

In early 1973, Jean and another graduate student, Liz Jacka, proposed a course on 'The politics of sexual oppression', to run as an option in the second half of the year. Apart from the content, the proposal was unusual in being proposed six months later than normal, and in being offered by graduate students. The department voted overwhelmingly for the course, although the minority voting against included the four most senior members. The Faculty of Arts also approved it, though only on the casting vote of the chairman. The Professorial Board rejected the proposed course, and a strike of staff and students began, spreading to several arts and social science departments and disrupting lectures in them for weeks. Students attending the lectures of Armstrong and other non-striking philosophers faced pickets outside and inside the lectures. Tents were pitched on the quadrangle lawn. Jack Mundey appeared on campus, promising a Builders Labourers Federation ban on work at the University. After various negotiations and inquiries, the administration agreed to the course, under a milder title, and with a more or less nominal supervision by John Burnheim.

Following her studies, Curthoys became an academic, author and philosopher.

She was Senior Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sydney, and is an Honorary Research Associate in the Department.

Her 1997 book 'Feminist Amnesia' was an important challenge to contemporary academic feminism. It accuses later academic feminist theory of abandoning the liberation theory of the 1960s for an intellectually and morally sterile careerism. Curthoys argues that the intellectual decline of university arts education and the loss of a deep moral commitment in feminism are related phenomena.

From Wikipedia, an article in 'Quadrant' 43 (4) (Apr, 1999), Reader Store