Distinguished Women of Past and Present

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Susanne Katherina Knauth Langer


This outstanding twentieth century philosopher was born on December 20, 1895 in New York City, New York, U.S.A. In 1920, she graduated from Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachussets, and married a historian, William L. Langer in 1921. She went with her husband to study at the University of Vienna and then came back to Radcliffe to get her M.A. in 1924 and a Ph.D. in philosophy in 1926. Following this she taught at Radcliffe, Wellesley and Smith Colleges. Despite her excellent qualifications and recommendations from outstanding philosophers, her titles were always limited to "lecturer" or "assistant" or "visiting" professor. During this time she gave birth to two children. After her divorce in 1942, she left the Boston area and held temporary positions in many co-ed institutions. In 1943, she taught philosophy at the University of Delaware and from 1945 to 1950 she lectured at Columbia University. From 1954 she taught at Connecticut College until her retirement in 1962.

She became recognized after publication of several books on linguistic analysis and aesthetics: The Practice of Philosophy (1930), An Introduction to Symbolic Logic (1937) and especially Philosophy in a New Key (1942), which was reissued several times due to high demand. In 1953 she published Feeling and Form, followed by Problems of Art (1957), Philosophical Sketches (1962), and three volumes of Mind: An Essay on Human Feeling (1967-1982)(Vol 1)(Vol. 2)(Vol. 3). She primarily dealt with various forms of artistic communication and symbolism and was able to express very complex ideas in terms understood by people in other fields.

In 1960, she was elected to the Academy of Arts and Sciences. Susanne Katherina Knauth Langer died on July 17, 1985 in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

Contributed by Danuta Bois, 1998.

1. American Women's History by Doris Weatherford, Prentice Hall General Reference, 1994
2. Her Heritage: A Biographical Encyclopedia of Famous American Women, CD ROM, Pilgrim New Media, Inc., 1994 (http://www.PLGRM.com)

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