Mary Townsend, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Mary Townsend is an assistant professor of philosophy at St. John’s University, Queens, NY. Her research interests include political and moral psychology ancient and modern, existentialism from Kierkegaard to Simone de Beauvoir, and the history and politics of feminist philosophy. Her 2017 book, The Woman Question in Plato's Republic was named required reading by University of Pennsylvania's Emily Wilson, translator of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, and her academic work on Plato, Beauvoir, and the American abolitionist Julia Ward Howe has appeared in Hypatia, Polis, and Social Philosophy Today. Dr. Townsend has also written on philosophy and culture for The Atlantic, The Hedgehog Review, Gawker, The Bulwark, Wisdom of Crowds, Plough Quarterly, and Commonweal on topics ranging from moral relativism, effective altruism, desire and the mind/body split, mental health, and the political psychology of democracy.


The Woman Question in Plato’s Republic. Lanham: Lexington Books, August 2017; paperback edition May 2019.

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles:

“Socratic Contempt for Wealth,” Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought, accepted for publication Sept. 29th, 2023.

“Beauvoir, Irigaray, and #Me Too: the Language of Subjectivity and Revolution,” Social Philosophy Today, Vol. 39: 35-50. 2023.

“Justice for All Without Exception: Julia Ward Howe’s 1887 Speech on Plato’s Republic,” Hypatia 36 (1): 145-171. 2021.

Book Chapters in edited collections: 

“The Argument of the Action in Plato’s Republic V.” In Otherwise Than the Binary: Toward Feminist Rereadings of Ancient Philosophy and Culture. Danielle Layne and Jessica Elbert Decker eds., SUNY Press, July 1st, 2022.

“Sophistry, Rhetoric, and the Crimes of Women: Plato’s Gorgias and Protagoras on Female Injustice.” In Liberty, Democracy, and the Temptations of Tyranny in the Dialogues of Plato, Charlotte Thomas, ed., Macon: Mercer University Press, 121-145. March 1st, 2021.

Reviews, invited:

 Review of Metaphysical Animals: How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life by Clare MacCumhaill and Rachel Wiseman, Doubleday Press, 2022, and The Women Are Up To Something by Benjamin Lipscomb, Oxford University Press, 2022, for The National Review, September 15th, 2022.

Review of Socrates and Divine Revelation by Lewis Fallis, University of Rochester Press, 2018, and Becoming Socrates: Political Philosophy in Plato’s Parmenides by Alex Priou, University of Rochester Press, 2018, for Review of Politics 82 (2): 331-336, Spring 2020.

Review of Ladies’ Greek by Yopie Prins, Princeton, 2017, for Education and Culture, July 19th, 2017.

Public Philosophy:

“Hating Sinners,” Plough Quarterly, August 23rd, 2023.

 “Effective Altruism is a Short Circuit,” The Bulwark, August 17th, 2023.

 “Do Democrats Dream of Philosopher-Kings?” Wisdom of Crowds, June 7th, 2023.

 “Desire in the Cave,” The Hedgehog Review, March 1st, 2023.

 “The Day No One Would Say the Nazis Were Bad,” Plough Quarterly, August 12th, 2022.

 “Drive My Car Shows Us How to Contemplate Regret,” Gawker, March 2022.

 “Dolly Parton is Magnificent,” Plough Quarterly, February 28th, 2022.

 “Seeing Other People,” Fare Forward, December 31st, 2021.

 “Stealing Time,” Virtue, Institute for Classical Education, August 30th, 2021.

 “Our Children and Our Citations: Each One, Both Together,” Plough Quarterly, August 4th, 2021.

 “Sex is (Not) for England,” Athwart Magazine, July 23rd, 2021.

“Animare Animam: A Review of Pixar’s Soul,” Athwart Magazine, April 2nd, 2021.

“Falling in Love Again,” Fare Forward, Issue 11, March 31st, 2021.

“Little Women, Rebel Angels: Simone de Beauvoir and Louisa May Alcott,” Plough Quarterly, November 30th, 2020.

“The Home is the School,” Plough Quarterly, May 4th, 2020.

“Seeing Everyday Beauty,” response to Roger Scruton’s “The Beauty of Belonging,” Plough Quarterly, Winter 2019.

“Throw Your Children’s Art Away,” The Atlantic, September 16th, 2018.

“Do Women Exist? Beauvoir and Irigaray on Female Selfhood.” The Hedgehog Review 20 (2): 28-37. 2018

“The Walking Wounded: Walker Percy’s Existentialism and the Rhetoric of Health.” The Hedgehog Review 19 (1): 56-69. 2017.

“Housecleaning and Heidegger: a defense of the thoughtfulness of domestic work.” The Hedgehog Review 18 (1): 114-125. 2016.