Research Seminar-Third Session- Winter 2024

When and Where

Wednesday, March 27, 2024 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Victoria College
91 Charles Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 1K7


Susanne Schmidt


                                                                   Research Seminars

                                                                      In-person event

The IHPST research seminars are in-person events centered on discussing recent scholarship in the history/philosophy of science and technology. We read an article in advance, and we discuss it with the author. Invited scholars make a brief presentation to situate the paper in the context of their work.

For a copy of the paper, please write two weeks in advance of a research seminar to Adriana Leviston <>

For questions, write to the organizer, Marga Vicedo:


Professor Susanne Schmidt (Stanford University) will present “Environment/Mother: Psychological Ecology, Gender, and Backlash, 1940–1990”

This paper reads psychological accounts of child development against the grain to recover normative constructions of women’s identity. It makes visible a concept of “feminine environmentality” that permeated psychology in the second half of the twentieth century: depictions of women as environs, surroundings, and background. It analyses how eminent experts such as the British paediatrician-analyst Donald Winnicott and the US-German ego-psychologist Erik Erikson instructed mothers and wives to provide optimal conditions for child development and male self-actualisation. Above all, it draws attention to the normative implications of feminine environmentality, recovering entrenched connections between protective ecological visions and traditional gender roles in psychoanalysis and psychology, or what may be called “eco-antifeminism.” In addition to complicating received understandings of Donald Winnicott and Erik Erikson as proto-feminist, the paper also identifies a discourse of racial difference in maternal capacities, which has received litte attention. It shows how praise of Black women’s maternal aptitude contributed to rationalising racial discrepancies in maternal health-care.

March 27, 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. VC303

No registration is required

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