UKSS 2019: The Second Sex at Seventy

By Kate Kirkpatrick and Jonathan Webber 

Version française ICI.

This summer, the UK Sartre Society’s annual conference was devoted to Simone de Beauvoir’s magnum opus The Second Sex, celebrating seventy years since its publication. The conference explored the text itself, its relation to Beauvoir’s life and other works, and its reception and influence on subsequent literature.

Our keynote speaker, Manon Garcia, argued that love is the main tool Beauvoir identified for an individual to convert oppression into emancipation. Faithful to Beauvoir’s commitment that philosophy could illuminate even the most intimate human relationships, Garcia discussed feminine eroticism and women’s need for a love that enables them to hold activity and passivity together.

Her address was complemented by 15 shorter presentations, selected from an open call for abstracts. These speakers came from Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, South Korea, Sweden, the UK, and the USA.

These talks included analyses of Beauvoir’s uses of wit and the ways these are often misunderstood by anglophone readers, her differing uses of fictional characters and historical women, her conception of myth, and her deep interest in classical Greek philosophy and literature, along with new perspectives on the more familiar themes of anxiety and freedom, embodiment and situation, oppression and complicity, and the relations between fiction and philosophy.

Between them, the talks brought Beauvoir’s work into fruitful analytical dialogue with a wide range of thinkers, including Anscombe, Arendt, and Heidegger, as well as Merleau-Ponty and Sartre.

Among all the talks, the conference also featured an excellent abridged performance of Beauvoir’s only play, Les bouches inutiles, directed by Antonia Mappin-Kasirer.

Our conference was kindly hosted by the Maison Française d’Oxford, as it has been for the past few years, across two gloriously sunny days. The final talk was a plenary session delivered in their beautiful garden.

Next summer’s conference, on the theme of imagination and the imaginary, will again be hosted by the Maison Française d’Oxford. The call for abstracts is on the UK Sartre Society website, with a deadline of 1st December 2019. We welcome submissions that engage the works of Beauvoir, Fanon, Merleau-Ponty, or Sartre.


Most recent books by the authors : 

Kate Kirkpatrick, Becoming Beauvoir,Oxford, Bloomsbury academics : London, Bloomsbury, 2019.

Jonathan Webber, Rethinking existentialism, OxfordOxford University Press, 2018.


To cite this article : Kate Kirkpatrick, Jonathan Webber, “UKSS 2019: The Second Sex at Seventy”, Chère Simone de Beauvoir, October 2019. URL :

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OpenEdition vous propose de citer ce billet de la manière suivante :
Marine Rouch (16 octobre 2019). UKSS 2019: The Second Sex at Seventy. Chère Simone de Beauvoir. Consulté le 21 juillet 2024 à l’adresse

Marine Rouch

Docteure en histoire contemporaine (université de Toulouse Jean Jaurès). Autrice de Chère Simone de Beauvoir... (Flammarion, 2024).

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