Veronica Franco in Dialogue
Published: April 2022© 2022
200 Pages, 6.25 x 9.25 x 0.55 in
Since the late twentieth century, the Venetian courtesan Veronica Franco has been viewed as a triumphant proto-feminist icon: a woman who celebrated her sexuality, an outspoken champion of women and their worth, and an important intellectual and cultural presence in sixteenth-century Venice.
In Veronica Franco in Dialogue, Marilyn Migiel provides a nuanced account of Franco’s rhetorical strategies through a close analysis of her literary work. Focusing on the first fourteen poems in the Terze rime, a collection of Franco’s poems published in 1575, Migiel looks specifically at back-and-forth exchanges between Franco and an unknown male author. Migiel argues that in order to better understand what Franco is doing in the poetic collection, it is essential to understand how she constructs her identity as author, lover, and sex worker in relation to this unknown male author.
Veronica Franco in Dialogue accounts for the moments of ambivalence, uncertainty, and indirectness in Franco’s poetry, as well as the polemicism and assertions of triumph. In doing so, it asks readers to consider their ideological investments in the stories we tell about early modern female authors and their cultural production.
Note on the Text and Translations of Veronica Franco’s Terze Rime
Introduction: What Do We See in Veronica Franco?
1. Gendered Strategies of Persuasion: Terze Rime 1 and 2
2. Poetic Identity and Community: Terze Rime 3 and 4
3. Repenting as a Courtesan: Terze Rime 5 and 6
4. Complaining and Cognitive Reframing: Terze Rime 7 and 8
5. Seductive Insinuation and Obliquely Frank Refusal: Terze Rime 9 and 10
6. Verona, Venezia, Veronica: Terze Rime 11 and 12
7. Attacks and Concessions under Erasure: Terze Rime 13 and 14
"Marilyn Migiel’s Veronica Franco in Dialogue is an extended study of the fourteen dialogic poems that Franco published in 1575, in each of which a female voice (Franco’s) interacts and contrasts with a male voice (left anonymous). Migiel’s powerful close readings and probing literary analyses reveal for the first time Franco’s full identity as a poet. While earlier works have presented her as above all an iconic woman and protofeminist figure, Migiel’s work shows how Franco’s consistent and subtle use of important model writers in Latin and Italian makes the poet a highly significant Renaissance author figure. Migiel’s analysis will have a substantial impact on the canonical interpretation of Franco and on future analyses of early modern women writers."MLA Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Publication Award for a Manuscript in Italian Literary Studies Committee
"Veronica Franco in Dialogue is a powerful, original, and groundbreaking study of Franco’s dialogic exchange with an unknown male author – real or imagined, single or multiple – that elucidates the ambiguous and oftentimes ambivalent construction of her selfhood as author, lover, and courtesan. Marilyn Migiel offers a masterful rhetorical close reading of these poems with original comparisons to Ovid, Petrarch, Dante, and Ariosto that highlight Franco’s highly sophisticated engagements with these subtexts in ways that have thus far been unnoticed by scholars."Aileen A. Feng, Associate Professor of Italian, University of Arizona
"Marilyn Migiel’s new book provides an original and much needed reappraisal of the dialogic poems of the Terze Rime. Through a series of exquisite close readings, Migiel demonstrates how Franco writes herself into the long tradition of Latin and Italian poetry."Hannah C. Wojciehowski, Thaman Professor of English, Department of English and Program in Comparative Literature, University of Texas at Austin
"Marilyn Migiel performs her usual insightful close readings, applied this time to the dialogic pairs of poems in Veronica Franco’s collected verse. Drawing out ambiguities and ambivalences in her analysis of their rhetoric, she advocates for replacing the view of Franco as a triumphant feminist with a more complex and nuanced but still admiring assessment."Janet Levarie Smarr, Professor of Theatre and Italian Studies , University of California San Diego
- Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Publication Award for a Manuscript in Italian Literary Studies