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Event Details

Mon, June 17, 2024

18:00 – 19:30

Villa La Pietra
Via Bolognese, 120
50139 Florence, Italy

A double book discussion and reading with Jessica Goethals, University of Alabama, Eric Nicholson, NYU Florence Lecturer, and Eugenio Refini, Professor of Italian Studies and Chair of the Department of Italian Studies at NYU.

What do a Baroque diva of the Medici court and the orphan girls of the Venetian hospitals have in common? At first glance, not much; yet, as this conversation between Jessica Goethals (University of Alabama) and Eugenio Refini (New York University) will demonstrate, the “diva” and the “putte” share more than one might expect. By discussing their recent books – Margherita Costa: Diva of the Baroque Court (Toronto University Press, 2023) and Staging the Soul: Allegorical Drama as Spiritual Practice in Baroque Italy (Legenda, 2023) – Goethals and Refini will shed light on the different ways in which women navigated the risky business of theatre in cultural and social contexts that both celebrated and scrutinized its moral ambiguities. Moderated by theater expert Eric Nicholson (NYU Florence and Syracuse University Florence), this conversation about the joys and sorrows of drama will feature readings aimed at recovering some of the voices that once enlivened the Baroque stage.

Featured Biographies

Jessica Goethals


Jessica Goethals is an Associate Professor of Italian at the University of Alabama. Her research centers on early modern literature. including gender and women’s writing, spectacle and performance, rhetoric, and violence. She is the author of Margherita Costa, Diva of the Baroque Court (University of Toronto Press, 2023) and, with Sara Díaz, the editor and translator of Costa’s burlesque comedy The Buffoons with the Other Voice in Early Modern Europe series (ITER, 2018). She is currently writing a monograph on the literary repercussions of the 1527 Sack of Rome, a project for which she has been a 2023-24 NEH Long Term Fellow at the Newberry Library. Her work has also been supported by the Folger Shakespeare Library, Harvard’s Villa I Tatti, the University of Pennsylvania, NYU, the Renaissance Society of America, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and the American Philosophical Society.

Eugenio Refini


Eugenio Refini is Professor of Italian Studies and Chair of the Department of Italian Studies at New York University. His research focuses on reception, translation and forms of adaptation, which he explores through the intersections of rhetoric, poetics, and voice studies. His most recent publications include two monographs: The Vernacular Aristotle: Translation as Reception in Medieval and Renaissance Italy (Cambridge University Press, 2020), and Staging the Soul: Allegorical Drama as Spiritual Practice in Baroque Italy (Legenda, 2023). He received research fellowships from institutions such as Harvard’s Villa I Tatti, the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and the Warburg Institute. More recently, he was awarded the NEH Rome Prize in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies from the American Academy in Rome. He is one of the co-editors of the “Classics After Antiquity” series of Cambridge University Press. 

Eric Nicholson


Eric Nicholson has been teaching classes in dramatic literature and theater history at Syracuse University Florence and NYU Florence for many years. An active member of the international research collaborative “Theater Without Borders,” with Robert Henke he edited the volumes  Transnational Exchange in Early Modern Theater  (Ashgate, 2008) and Transnational Mobilities in Early Modern Theater (Ashgate, 2014).  With Pamela Allen Brown and Julie D. Campbell he has translated and edited Isabella Andreini’s Fragmenti di alcune scritture…  as Lovers’ Debates for the Stage (ITER Press, 2022).  In Florence and elsewhere, Eric has directed and performed in plays by Aristophanes, Shakespeare, Molière, and others, including “Clorilli, a Pastoral Drama,” in its premiere modern production (Spring 2018). His related chapter appears in Drama, Poetry and Music in Late-Renaissance Italy: The life and works of Leonora Bernardi, by Virginia Cox and Lisa Sampson (UCL Press, 2023).  He is also a professional actor and voice artist who has worked on several audio guides, and appears as Brunetto Latini in Ric Burns’s documentary-film Dante: Inferno to Paradise (PBS, March 2024).