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A Corresponding Renaissance

Letters Written by Italian Women, 1375-1650

Lisa Kaborycha

Publication Date - 27 May 2015

ISBN: 9780199342433

320 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

The first collection of letters of Italian Renaissance women available in English


Women's vibrant presence in the Italian Renaissance has long been overlooked, with attention focused mainly on the artistic and intellectual achievements of their male counterparts. During this period, however, Italian women excelled especially as writers, and nowhere were they more expressive than in their letters. In A Corresponding Renaissance: Letters Written by Italian Women, 1375-1650 Lisa Kaborycha considers the lives and cultural contributions revealed by these women in their own words, through their correspondence. By turns highly personal, didactic, or devotional, these letters expose the daily realities of women's lives and their feelings, ideas, and reactions to the complex world in which they lived. Through their letters women emerge not merely as bystanders, but as true cultural protagonists in the Italian Renaissance.

A Corresponding Renaissance is divided into eight thematic chapters, featuring fifty-five letters that are newly translated into English-many for the first time ever. Each of the letters is annotated and includes a brief biographical introduction and bibliographic references. The women come from all walks of life--saints, poets, courtesans and countesses--and from every geographic area of Italy; chronologically they span the entire Renaissance, with the majority representing the sixteenth century. Approximately one third of the selections are well-known letters, such as those of Catherine of Siena, Veronica Franco, and Isabella d'Este; the rest are lesser known, previously un-translated, or otherwise inaccessible.

About the Author(s)

Lisa Kaborycha received a B.A. in Comparative Literature, an M.A. in Italian Studies, and a Ph.D. in Medieval and Early Modern European History. She has taught history at the University of California, Berkeley and at Menlo College. Currently, she lives in Florence, Italy, where she teaches courses on Renaissance history at the University of California, Florence Study Center and works as a Senior Research Fellow at the Medici Archive Project. She is the author of A Short History of Renaissance Italy (2010).


"[O]ne of the most vivid, informative, and touching pictures of the Italian Renaissance and its seventeenth-century aftermath that I have ever had the pleasure to read."--Judith Rice Henderson, The Sixteenth Century Journal

"This excellent anthology of Renaissance Italian women's letters...will be interesting and helpful to those teaching and researching women's history: women's letter-writing but also the many aspects of the lives of early modern women revealed in their letters, relevant to non-Italian as well as Italian women. The wide range of subjects and individuals covered will lend itself to making selections to complement other readings and other parts of a course."--Renaissance Quarterly

"A Corresponding Renaissance proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Italian women were remarkable writers and that their letters are invaluable entry points into the dynamics of patronage, family, religion, and politics during one of the most exciting periods of Italian history."--Jane Tylus, New York University

"The translations are clear and readable and the introductory materials are superb, with just the right balance of biographical detail and historical context to bring these remarkable women to life. The topics range from domestic and personal to scholarly and political, and from the very brief and particular to the substantial and literary. This collection offers a vibrant introduction to the world of Renaissance Italy, and especially to the women and their lives."--Ann E. Moyer, University of Pennsylvania

"Kaborycha's translations are clear and engaging, her commentary precise, and the collection superbly assembled. This is a marvelous new resource for scholars and students alike."--Margaret Meserve, University of Notre Dame

"There is no doubt that the selection of letters translated in A Corresponding Renaissance will spur students and scholars alike to a renewed examination of these early modern women and of the Renaissance art of epistolography."--Meredith Ray, University of Delaware

"The range of topics is excellent and the thematic focus of each chapter is clearly and usefully presented. The choice of letters will permit students to look into several areas of women's cultural and social lives, as well as their purely intellectual concerns."--Margaret King, City University of New York

"Kaborycha's creative choices make this text eminently useful for courses in Italian Renaissance history, women's history, Italian literature, or gender studies in early modernity."--Julia Hairston, University of California, Rome Study Center

Table of Contents

    Map of Italy showing cities and towns of origin or destination of letters associated with the correspondents
    About the Editor


    Chapter One: The Active versus the Contemplative Life
    1. Caterina Benincasa describes the execution of Niccolò di Toldo to Raymond of Capua
    2. Brigida Baldinotti praises the women who serve at Florence's Santa Maria Nuova hospital
    3. Cassandra Fedele responds to Alessandra Scala-s request on whether to write or marry
    4. Paula Antonia Negri urges Gaspara Stampa to choose the life of the spirit over worldly life
    5. Olympia Fulvia Morata to Caelius Secundus Curio on "giving birth" to her writings
    6. Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi sends Christmas nativity scene decorations to her niece Maria
    Suggestions for further reading

    Chapter Two: Humanism and Its Discontents
    7. Maddalena Scrovegni to Jacopo dal Verme in praise of Giangaleazzo Visconti
    8. Isotta Nogarola asks Guarino Guarini why he has not responded to her letter
    9. Costanza Varano writes to Isotta Nogarola expressing admiration for her learning
    10. Nicolosa Castellani Sanuti to Cardinal Bessarion challenging sumptuary laws
    11. Laura Cereta to Agostino Emilio condemning women's excessive luxury in dress
    Suggestions for further reading

    Chapter Three: Governing the Household/Governing the State
    12. Margherita Datini criticizes her husband Francesco Datini for his handling of business matters
    13. Lucrezia Tornabuoni reports her impressions of a prospective bride for their son to husband Piero de' Medici
    14. Eleonora d'Aragona complains to husband Ercole d'Este about his soldiers' unbridled violence
    15. Guglielmina Schianteschi informs her husband Luigi della Stufa of her management of country property
    16. Lucrezia Borgia warns her father Pope Alexander VI Borgia to leave Rome
    17. Maria Salviati tells Giovanni [?] of her determination not to re-marry
    18. Caterina de' Ricci advises her father Pierfrancesco de' Ricci to resolve a family quarrel
    Suggestions for further reading

    Chapter Four: Mothers and Children
    19. Pandolfina Baglioni expresses her desire to see her mother Pantasilea Salimbene
    20. Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi to her son Filippo Strozzi on taking precautions against illness and death
    21. Lucrezia (Nannina) de' Medici confides in her mother about a marital disagreement
    22. Caterina Sforza warns her son Ottaviano Riario to maintain secrecy and beware of enemies
    23. Cassandra Chigi discusses household needs and shopping with her mother Sulpizia Petrucci
    24. Veronica Franco reproves a woman who wants to train her daughter as a courtesan
    25. Isabella Andreini congratulates a man on the birth of a daughter
    Suggestions for further reading

    Chapter Five: Love and Friendship
    26. Camilla Pisana complains to Francesco del Nero about her lover Filippo Strozzi
    27. Maria Savorgnan to Pietro Bembo expressing the depth of her love for him
    28. Cecilia Liconella expresses her love to Nicolò de Lazara, a noble she met in Padua
    29. Marietta Corsini describes their newborn son to her husband Niccolò Machiavelli
    30. Vittoria Colonna explains to Michelangelo Buonarroti why she has not written
    31. Ginevra Gozzadini requests marital advice from her spiritual advisor Leone Bartolini
    32. Celia Romana describes amusements of Roman Carnival season andexpresses distress at her lover's neglect
    33. Emilia N., Fiorentina returns her lover's letters but asks him to publish his love poems
    34. Margherita Costa imagines a love letter written by a beautiful woman to a dwarf
    Suggestions for further reading

    Chapter Six: Literature and Leisure
    35. Bartolomea degli Obizzi Alberti discusses theories of reading with a female friend
    36. Ippolita Maria Sforza describes her impressions as a newlywed at the Aragonese court to her mother Bianca Maria Visconti
    37. Tullia d'Aragona asks Benedetto Varchi's aid in drafting a letter to Duke Cosimo I de' Medici and Duchess Eleonora
    38. Laura Battiferra dedicates her book of poetry to Eleonora di Toledo, Duchess of Florence
    39. Vittoria Archilei laments her declining singing career and asks the Grand Duchess Christine to assist her son
    40. Francesca Caccini requests a libretto for her new composition from Michelangelo Buonarroti the Younger
    41. Arcangela Tarabotti thanks friar Giovanni Battista Fusconi for sending her his musical drama
    Suggestions for further reading

    Chapter Seven: Art: Patrons and Painters
    42. Isabella d'Este proposes a subject for a painting to Leonardo da Vinci
    43. Veronica Gambara recommends a work of the painter Correggio to Isabella d'Este
    44. Cornelia Colonello appeals to Michelangelo Buonarroti in a legal dispute with her father
    45. Margherita Aratori expresses to Costanza Colonna how she misses her
    46. Sofonisba Anguissola asks Philip II of Spain for a recommendation for her husband
    47. Lavinia Fontana replies to Alfonso Ciacòn, sending a self-portrait that he had requested
    48. Artemisia Gentileschi discusses costs and terms of payment for her paintings with Don Antonio Ruffo
    Suggestions for further reading

    Chapter Eight: Inquiring Minds: Science and Philosophy
    49. Ceccarella Minutolo to Theophilo on how knowledge is acquired and transmitted
    50. Chiara Matraini to Maria Cardonia on the superiority of philosophy to military "science"
    51. Margherita Sarrocchi confirms Galileo's astronomical observations to Guido Bettoli
    52. Camilla Erculiani Greghetti explains her theory of the interaction of physical elements at the time of the Biblical Flood to Márton Berzeviczy
    53. Sara Copio Sullam discusses philosophical and theological views on human mortality with Baldassarre Bonifacio
    54.Virginia Galilei sends for linens and requests a copy of The Assayer from her father Galileo Galilei
    55. Elena Lucrezia Corner Piscopia asks university director Nicolò Venier to restore her mentor's tenure
    Suggestions for further reading


Teaching Resources

For more information about A Corresponding Renaissance: Letters Written by Italian Women, 1375-1650, visit http://www.lisakaborycha.com/letters-of-renaissance-women/.

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