Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: The Dinner Party: Heritage Floor: Dorothea Leporin-Erxleben

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Unknown artist. Dorothea Christiane Erxleben, known as Dorothea Leporin-Erxleben, 18th century. Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Dorothea Leporin-Erxleben
b. 1715, Quedlinburg, Germany; d. 1762, Quedlinburg, Germany

"Even if a few men are disgusted by learned women, what is that to us? or why should it induce us to shun learning?"
—Dorothea Leporin Erxleben, Thorough Examination of the Reasons Preventing Women from Study (1742), quoted in Too and Livingstone, Pedagogy and Power, 59

Dorothea Leporin-Erxleben was the first woman to be awarded a medical degree by a German university. She petitioned and obtained permission from Frederick the Great, king of Prussia, to matriculate at the University of Halle despite the rule barring women. Although marriage and family obligations delayed the doctoral examination, she continued studies at home while already practicing medicine and finally obtained a degree in 1754. Her feminist tract, Gründliche Untersuchung der Ursachen, die das Weibliche Geschlecht vom Studiren [sic] abhalten (Thorough Examination of the Reasons Preventing Women from Study), was published in 1742.

Related Place Setting

Caroline Herschel

Related Heritage Floor Entries

Katherine Bethlen
Louyse Bourgeois
Annie Jump Cannon
Margaret Cavendish
Mrs. Cellier
Marie Colinet
Frau Cramer
Maria Cunitz
Genevieve D'Arconville
Baroness de Beausaleil
Angelique de Coudray
Justine Dietrich
Emilie du Chatelet
Jeanne Dumeè
Sophie Germain

Anne Halkett
Mother Hutton
Josephine Kablick
Maria Kirch
Mary Lamb
Mary Lavoisier
Louise le Gras
Hortense Lepaut
Jeanne Mance
Anna Manzolini
Martha Mears
Renier Michiel
Maria Mitchell
Mary Somerville
Dorothy Wordsworth

Primary Sources

Too, Yun Lee, and Niall Livingstone. Pedagogy and Power. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.