You are here:

Course tutor: Jessica Maratsos (Keith Sykes Research Fellow in Italian Studies, Pembroke College, Cambridge)

“If you compare the merits of women with those of men in any age whatsoever you will find that they have never been, nor are they now, the slightest bit inferior.”  So spoke Giuliano de’ Medici in Baldassare Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier.  Written as a spirited dialogue taking place at the court of Elisabetta Gonzaga, the Duchess of Urbino, this Renaissance bestseller treated all aspects of contemporary culture, from the literature of Boccaccio to the desirable attributes of rulers to the relative virtues of men and women.  Yet despite the advocacy for female intelligence and sophistication woven throughout the text, at this time women were frequently excluded from the public spheres of politics, business, and the arts, and confined instead to the domestic realm.  Scholarship from recent decades, however, has demonstrated not only how exceptional women—such as the poet Vittoria Colonna, the artist Sofonisba Anguissola, and the Marchioness Isabella d’Este—defied these constraints, but also the richness and complexity of women’s roles within private and religious life, as well as in the labour economy of the period.  Drawing on a wide range of textual, visual, and material culture, this course will reconsider the crucial part women played in creating and shaping Renaissance culture.  

The course will be taught across five x two hour classes online via the zoom platform. Each session will have time for discussion. Reading lists will be made available to registered students.

Monday-Friday, 13 - 17 September 2021: 15:00-17:00

Session 1. Social Class, the Family, and the Home
Session 2. Gender and Religious Life
Session 3. Women as Writers, Women as Readers
Session 4. Women as Artists, Women as Patrons
Session 5. The Female Body in Art, Medicine, and Society

  • Standard £100
  • Warburg Staff & Fellows/external students/unwaged £90
  • SAS & LAHP students £80
  • Warburg Students £50

NB: the bursary application process for this course has now closed.

image: detail from Portrait of a Woman with a Man at a Casement, Fra Filippo Lippi, ca. 1440: Met, New York