Writing Gender in Women's Letter Collections of the Italian Renaissance
Published: July 2009© 2009
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Series: Toronto Italian Studies
Page Count: 304 Pages
Dimensions: 6.35 x 9.35
304 Pages, 6.35 x 9.35 x 1.07 in
Temporarily Out Of Stock
During the Italian Renaissance, dozens of early modern writers published collections of private correspondence, using them as vehicles for self-presentation, self-promotion, social critique, and religious dissent. Writing Gender in Women's Letter Collections of the Italian Renaissance examines the letter collections of women writers, arguing that these works were a studied performance of pervasive ideas about gender as well as genre, a form of self-fashioning that variously reflected, manipulated, and subverted cultural and literary conventions regarding femininity and masculinity.
Meredith K. Ray presents letter collections from authors of diverse backgrounds, including a noblewoman, a courtesan, an actress, a nun, and a male writer who composed letters under female pseudonyms. Ray's study includes extensive new archival research and highlights a widespread interest in women's letter collections during the Italian Renaissance that suggests a deep curiosity about the female experience and a surprising openness to women's participation in this kind of literary production.
'Writing Gender is a fresh approach to the history of women that exposes the role of both authentic and ventriloquized gendered voices in the construction and performance of gender in Renaissance and Baroque vernacular letter collections.' Aileen A Feng, Annali d’Italianistica, vol 28: 2010
Writing Gender in Women's Letter Collections of the Italian Renaissance is a pleasure to read. A strong, well-argued book, it is written in an engaging, scholarly, and polished style. Meredith K. Ray makes the case for the importance of the genre of letter writing for women as she shows how difficult it was for intellectual women to adopt a public persona. She also illustrates how popular it was at the time to "write like a woman," to the point that even male authors wanted to catch the wave. Brava! Valeria Finucci, Department of Romance Studies, Duke University
- Winner - Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque Book Prize awarded by American Association for Italian Studies