Female Genius: Eliza Harriot and George Washington at the Dawn of the Constitution

Award-winning author and law professor Mary Sarah Bilder will give the 2022 Distinguished Hon. Arlin M. Adams Lecture.  Prof. Bilder will discuss her book, Female Genius which looks to the 1780s—the Age of the Constitution—to investigate the rise of a radical new idea in the English-speaking world: female genius. Bilder finds the perfect exemplar of this phenomenon in English-born Eliza Harriot Barons O’Connor. This pathbreaking female educator delivered a University of Pennsylvania lecture attended by George Washington as he and other Constitutional Convention delegates gathered in Philadelphia. As the first such public female lecturer, her courageous performance likely inspired the gender-neutral language of the Constitution. Prof. Bilder teaches in the areas of property, trusts and estates, and American legal and constitutional history at Boston College Law School and was awarded the 2016 Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy for her book Madison’s Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention. More information will be forthcoming.