Greek Middle Class Women and the Transmission of Knowledge

Greek Middle Class Women and the Transmission of Knowledge at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

Poly Giannakopoulou

Poly Giannakopoulou's project focused on women’s involvement in science in Greece during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, at a time when Greek universities at large had not yet developed into research institutions, and rarely accepted women as students. In this situation, women played an important role in transmitting scientific knowledge from Western Europe and beyond as writers, translators, and organizers of public lectures, most prominently among them Kallirhoe Parren, a central figure of intellectual life in Athens. Parren in particular participated in international congresses abroad and shared new scientific theories back home, where consultation and discussion created a scientifically-minded female public. The Ladies’ Newspaper, a major Greek newspaper of the time addressed to women, was a central site where scientific exchange of this kind flourished. In her project, Poly Giannakopoulou focused on the role of Kallirhoe Parren and the circle that formed around her and her newspaper. She discussed the output of women in the public sphere through their articles on scientific issues, their presence at women’s congresses in Europe and America, and their attendance of public lectures organized by the Parnassus Literary Society and the Lyceum of Greek Women. The aim of these activities was as much to transmit and acquire knowledge as it was to advance women’s education, their access to universities, and their equal treatment to men in the workplace. Science served a genuine interest in scholarly issues; at the same time it was a vehicle to improve women’s rights and education.