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Women, Family and Vernacular Letter-Writing in Renaissance Italy

Posted By Deborah Pellegrino, Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Recent years have seen an unprecedented increase in scholarly attention to Renaissance epistolarity and to the practice of letter-writing by women in Renaissance and early modern Italy. This panel invites new contributions on women’s epistolary exchanges in the vernacular form to discuss the central role of wife or/and widow within the family, and more broadly in family relationships and networks across the Italian peninsula in the fifteenth- and sixteenth-centuries. Papers that address this theme and which explore vernacular letter-writing as a quotidian activity for women, connected to family ethics and memory, strategic activity and survival, and which also problematize the mechanism of female and/or maternal agency at work in the role of women as practical collaborators in the social, economic and political life of the Italian family are especially welcome.

 Focusing on these themes, some of the main questions of the panel might include, but are not limited to: What kind of strategies did women elaborate through their family letter-writing to escape or mitigate the rigor of patriarchy? How did wives and/or widows utilize the epistolary medium to both maintain and create ideas about family and household identity, strategy and memory? What was the extent of women's participation inside and outside the family? What kind of literacy and vernacular competencies did women have access to through the family? In what ways did women exploit the epistolary medium’s potential for self-representation and self-fashioning within the family? Were these women concerned with crafting an identity of themselves as a source of family power and knowledge through their epistolary activities?

Submissions should be sent by 28 May to Lisa Di Crescenzo and Deborah Pellegrino, and should include the following information in a separate email attachment:

Please note that the participant must have already been awarded their PhD.

This is a CFP for a panel which will be submitted to The Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, Queen Mary University of London as a sponsored panel at the RSA 2018 New Orleans.


Tags:  Agency  Family  Identity  Letter-writing  Memory  Renaissance Italy  Vernacular  Women 

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