What is medieval; what is modern? My research bridges medieval manuscripts and modern feminist thought, emphasizing the intricate links between the medieval and modern worlds.
Late Medieval Italian and Latin literature Renaissance Italian and Neo-Latin literature Twentieth and Twenty-first century Italian literature Gender Studies Women Writers Feminist Theory Manuscript Studies Book History Digital Humanities
Boccaccio's Women Philosophers
My dissertation Boccaccio’s Women Philosophers: Defining Philosophy, Debating Gender in the Decameron and Beyond investigates the idea of women as philosophers in late medieval Italy. At this historical juncture, the concept of philosophy and beliefs about women were developing and disputed across texts written in Italian, a burgeoning vernacular, and Latin, an established scholarly medium. Giovanni Boccaccio, in his Italian and Latin works alike, demonstrated an enduring interest in both women and philosophy. Analyzing his reimagining of the concept of philosophy and the category of woman, I argue that Boccaccio presents models of female philosophers. I use variations and commentaries found in the fourteenth- and fifteenth-century manuscript tradition to historically ground my literary analysis. In addition to charting trends across a number of manuscripts, I focus in on a few codices, examining the particular issues they raise. Twentieth-century feminist thinkers, Luce Irigaray and Michèle Le Dœuff in particular, have argued that philosophy’s exclusion of women is key to their oppression. While these critiques have fallen out of the spotlight,the issue of women’s relationship to philosophy, and to knowledge more broadly, has yet to be resolved. Even today women remain grossly underrepresented in the academic field of philosophy. Moreover, when women write, speak, and participate in cultural debates, their thinking is qualified by their womanhood. By examining women’s relationship to knowledge, rather than applying standards of gender equality to Boccaccio’s works, I shift the scholarly discourse away from debates about the texts’ perceived feminism or misogyny. Studying Boccaccio’s portrayal of women as philosophers thus offers a crucial historical perspective on understanding women as intellectual authorities.
"Famous Women and Feminist Utopias: Boccaccio in Christine de Pizan and Laura Cereta" Council for European Studies Conference June 2020 Reykjavik, Iceland