Share This Event

Event Details

Tue, October 25, 2016

18:00 – 19:30

Villa La Pietra
Via Bolognese, 120
50139 Florence, ITALY

Aileen A. Feng, Associate Professor of Italian, Faculty Affiliate, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Arizona; Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fellow 2016-2017, Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Renaissance Studies

This talk focuses on the appropriation of classically misogynist tropes by the Quattrocento donne umaniste in their Latin letterbooks and public orations. While humanists like Isotta Nogarola, Cassandra Fedele, and Laura Cereta often take a pro-woman stance in their writing, often in the same works in which they extol the historical achievements of intellectual women they denigrate themselves, the female sex, and, especially, uneducated women through tropes reminiscent of Andreas Capellanus’s De amore, Juvenal’s Satire VI, and other widely circulating misogynistic texts. Although this kind of female-authored misogyny risks reinforcing and authorizing the theory of women’s natural inferiority to men, as will be explored in this talk it also serves as an exhortation to women to imitate their educated female contemporaries. Thus, education becomes a means towards overcoming the natural, destructive inclinations attributed to the female sex by a long tradition of literary misogyny. By examining the female use of misogynistic tropes, we may be able to reappraise the place and power of female-authored misogyny in the early stages of proto-feminism.    

Featured Biographies

Aileen A. Feng


Aileen Feng received her PhD in Italian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and is an Associate Professor of Italian and Faculty Affiliate in Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona. In 2015 she co-edited the volume of criticism titled Rethinking Gaspara Stampa in the Canon of Renaissance Poetry. She has two books in press that will appear in the next few months: an English translation and edition of the Quattrocento poet-barber Burchiello’s poetry; and a monograph titled Writing Beloveds: Humanist Petrarchism and the Politics of Gender, which is being published by the University of Toronto Press. She is currently the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fellow at Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Renaissance Studies in Florence, where she is working on her second monograph, Feminism’s First Paradox: Female Misogyny and Homosociality in Early Modern Italy and France.