The Worth of Women

Author: Moderata (Modesta Pozzo) Fonte
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226256832
Format: PDF, Kindle
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Gender equality and the responsibility of husbands and fathers: issues that loom large today had currency in Renaissance Venice as well, as evidenced by the publication in 1600 of The Worth of Women by Moderata Fonte. Moderata Fonte was the pseudonym of Modesta Pozzo (1555–92), a Venetian woman who was something of an anomaly. Neither cloistered in a convent nor as liberated from prevailing codes of decorum as a courtesan might be, Pozzo was a respectable, married mother who produced literature in genres that were commonly considered "masculine"—the chivalric romance and the literary dialogue. This work takes the form of the latter, with Fonte creating a conversation among seven Venetian noblewomen. The dialogue explores nearly every aspect of women's experience in both theoretical and practical terms. These women, who differ in age and experience, take as their broad theme men's curious hostility toward women and possible cures for it. Through this witty and ambitious work, Fonte seeks to elevate women's status to that of men, arguing that women have the same innate abilities as men and, when similarly educated, prove their equals. Through this dialogue, Fonte provides a picture of the private and public lives of Renaissance women, ruminating on their roles in the home, in society, and in the arts. A fine example of Renaissance vernacular literature, this book is also a testament to the enduring issues that women face, including the attempt to reconcile femininity with ambition.

The Nobility and Excellence of Women and the Defects and Vices of Men

Author: Lucrezia Marinella
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226505503
Format: PDF, ePub
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A gifted poet, a women's rights activist, and an expert on moral and natural philosophy, Lucrezia Marinella (1571-1653) was known throughout Italy as the leading female intellectual of her age. Born into a family of Venetian physicians, she was encouraged to study, and, fortunately, she did not share the fate of many of her female contemporaries, who were forced to join convents or were pressured to marry early. Marinella enjoyed a long literary career, writing mainly religious, epic, and pastoral poetry, and biographies of famous women in both verse and prose. Marinella's masterpiece, The Nobility and Excellence of Women, and the Defects and Vices of Men was first published in 1600, composed at a furious pace in answer to Giusepe Passi's diatribe about women's alleged defects. This polemic displays Marinella's vast knowledge of the Italian poetic tradition and demonstrates her ability to argue against authors of the misogynist tradition from Boccaccio to Torquato Tasso. Trying to effect real social change, Marinella argued that morally, intellectually, and in many other ways, women are superior to men.

Declamation on the Nobility and Preeminence of the Female Sex

Author: Henricus Cornelius Agrippa
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226010600
Format: PDF, Mobi
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Originally published in 1529, the Declamation on the Preeminence and Nobility of the Female Sex argues that women are more than equal to men in all things that really matter, including the public spheres from which they had long been excluded. Rather than directly refuting prevailing wisdom, Agrippa uses women's superiority as a rhetorical device and overturns the misogynistic interpretations of the female body in Greek medicine, in the Bible, in Roman and canon law, in theology and moral philosophy, and in politics. He raised the question of why women were excluded and provided answers based not on sex but on social conditioning, education, and the prejudices of their more powerful oppressors. His declamation, disseminated through the printing press, illustrated the power of that new medium, soon to be used to generate a larger reformation of religion.

Paternal Tyranny

Author: Arcangela Tarabotti
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226789675
Format: PDF, ePub
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Sharp-witted and sharp-tongued, Arcangela Tarabotti (1604-52) yearned to be formally educated and enjoy an independent life in Venetian literary circles. But instead, at sixteen, her father forced her into a Benedictine convent. To protest her confinement, Tarabotti composed polemical works exposing the many injustices perpetrated against women of her day. Paternal Tyranny, the first of these works, is a fiery but carefully argued manifesto against the oppression of women by the Venetian patriarchy. Denouncing key misogynist texts of the era, Tarabotti shows how despicable it was for Venice, a republic that prided itself on its political liberties, to deprive its women of rights accorded even to foreigners. She accuses parents of treating convents as dumping grounds for disabled, illegitimate, or otherwise unwanted daughters. Finally, through compelling feminist readings of the Bible and other religious works, Tarabotti demonstrates that women are clearly men's equals in God's eyes. An avenging angel who dared to speak out for the rights of women nearly four centuries ago, Arcangela Tarabotti can now finally be heard.

Collected Letters of a Renaissance Feminist

Author: Laura Cereta
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226721583
Format: PDF, Docs
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Renaissance writer Laura Cereta (1469–1499) presents feminist issues in a predominantly male venue—the humanist autobiography in the form of personal letters. Cereta's works circulated widely in Italy during the early modern era, but her complete letters have never before been published in English. In her public lectures and essays, Cereta explores the history of women's contributions to the intellectual and political life of Europe. She argues against the slavery of women in marriage and for the rights of women to higher education, the same issues that have occupied feminist thinkers of later centuries. Yet these letters also furnish a detailed portrait of an early modern woman’s private experience, for Cereta addressed many letters to a close circle of family and friends, discussing highly personal concerns such as her difficult relationships with her mother and her husband. Taken together, these letters are a testament both to an individual woman and to enduring feminist concerns.

Floridoro

Author: Moderata (Modesta Pozzo) Fonte
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226256790
Format: PDF
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The first original chivalric poem written by an Italian woman, Floridoro imbues a strong feminist ethos into a hypermasculine genre. Dotted with the usual characteristics—dark forests, illusory palaces, enchanted islands, seductive sorceresses—Floridoro is the story of the two greatest knights of a bygone age: the handsome Floridoro, who risks everything for love, and the beautiful Risamante, who helps women in distress while on a quest for her inheritance. Throughout, Moderata Fonte (1555–92) vehemently defends women’s capacity to rival male prowess in traditionally male-dominated spheres. And her open criticism of women’s lack of education is echoed in the plights of various female characters who must depend on unreliable men. First published in 1581, Floridoro remains a vivacious and inventive narrative by a singular poet.

The Ashgate Research Companion to Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe

Author: Jane Couchman
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1317041054
Format: PDF, Docs
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Over the past three decades scholars have transformed the study of women and gender in early modern Europe. This Ashgate Research Companion presents an authoritative review of the current research on women and gender in early modern Europe from a multi-disciplinary perspective. The authors examine women’s lives, ideologies of gender, and the differences between ideology and reality through the recent research across many disciplines, including history, literary studies, art history, musicology, history of science and medicine, and religious studies. The book is intended as a resource for scholars and students of Europe in the early modern period, for those who are just beginning to explore these issues and this time period, as well as for scholars learning about aspects of the field in which they are not yet an expert. The companion offers not only a comprehensive examination of the current research on women in early modern Europe, but will act as a spark for new research in the field.

Complete Writings

Author: Isotta Nogarola
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226590097
Format: PDF, Docs
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Renowned in her day for her scholarship and eloquence, Isotta Nogarola (1418-66) remained one of the most famous women of the Italian Renaissance for centuries after her death. And because she was one of the first women to carve out a place for herself in the male-dominated republic of letters, Nogarola served as a crucial role model for generations of aspiring female artists and writers. This volume presents English translations of all of Nogarola's extant works and highlights just how daring and original her convictions were. In her letters and orations, Nogarola elegantly synthesized Greco-Roman thought with biblical teachings. And striding across the stage in public, she lectured the Veronese citizenry on everything from history and religion to politics and morality. But the most influential of Nogarola's works was a performance piece, Dialogue on Adam and Eve, in which she discussed the relative sinfulness of Adam and Eve—thereby opening up a centuries-long debate in Europe on gender and the nature of woman and establishing herself as an important figure in Western intellectual history. This book will be a must read for teachers and students of Women's Studies as well as of Renaissance literature and history.

The Merits of Women

Author: Moderata Fonte
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022655077X
Format: PDF, Docs
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You would as well look for blood in a corpse as for the least shred of decency in a man . . . Without help from their wives, men are just like unlit lamps . . . Just think of them as an unreliable clock that tells you it’s ten o’clock when it’s in fact barely two . . . A man without a woman is like a fly without a head . . . These are but a small selection of the quips bandied about at this lively gathering of women. The broad topic at hand is the relative pros and cons of men, and the cases in point range from pick-up artists to locker-room talk, and from double standards to fragile masculinity. Yet this dialogue unfolds not among ironically misandrist millenials venting at their local dive bar, but rather among sixteenth-century women—variously married, widowed, single, and betrothed—attending a respectable Venice garden party. Written in the early 1590s by Moderata Fonte, pseudonym of the Renaissance poet and writer Modesta Pozzo, this literary dialogue interrogates men and men’s treatment of women, and explores by contrast the virtues of singledom and female friendship. As the women diverge from their theme—discussing everything from astrology to the curative powers of plants and minerals—a remarkable group portrait of wisdom, wit, and erudition emerges. A new introduction by translator Virginia Cox and foreword by Dacia Maraini situate The Merits of Women in its historical context, written as it was on the cusp of Shakespeare’s heyday, and straddling the centuries between the feminist works of Christine de Pizan and Mary Wollstonecraft. Elegantly presented for a general audience, this is a must-read for baby feminists and “nasty women” alike, not to mention the perfect subtle gift for any mansplaining friend who needs a refresher on the merits of women . . . and their superiority to men.