Dr. M. Katie Brennan

Assistant Professor, Philosophy

Contact Information:

Room 204


B.A. in English and philosophy, St. Mary’s College of Maryland (2004)
M.A.L.A., St. John’s College, Annapolis (2007)
M.A. in philosophy, SUNY Stony Brook (2009)
Ph.D. in philosophy, Temple University (2019)

Research Interests:

My research focuses on life affirmation, especially as developed in the work of 19th-century philosophers. Life affirmation describes the process of coming to see life as worthwhile and filled with meaning, even in the face of great suffering. I address this problem in two main contexts: the aesthetic and the social/political. In the aesthetic context, I work on Friedrich Nietzsche’s account of life affirmation through tragedy. In the social/political context, I analyze life affirmation from a feminist perspective to demonstrate how social and political considerations make life affirmation more difficult for oppressed groups. My work focuses on figures who have been ignored or overlooked by the philosophical cannon. I study the writings of Hedwig Dohm (1833-1919), an early German feminist who advocates for universal suffrage and criticizes gender structures that keep women from coming to affirm their lives. Like many of her contemporaries, Dohm was concerned with the self-realization (and by extension life affirmation) of women, which, she claims, was hindered by 19th-century politics and society. For Dohm, self-realization contains both political and existential dimensions. Participation in political life is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for equality. In addition, one must live in a society that allows for one’s self-realization.