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Female-Authored Misogyny and Intellectuality in Quattrocento, Italy
November 17, 2017 @ 4:00 pm
The Department of Romance Studies presents “Lingua est suffusa veneno”: Female-Authored Misogyny and Intellectuality in Quattrocento, Italy. This talk, by Aileen A. Feng (University of Arizona 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 (book III), Jevenals’ 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.