Writing Beloveds: Humanist Petrarchism and the Politics of Gender

Writing Beloveds: Humanist Petrarchism and the Politics of Gender

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By Aileen A. Feng
Toronto Italian Studies
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2017
World Rights
280 Pages
ISBN 9781487500771
Published Dec 2016
Online discount: 25%
 $65.00    $48.75
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781487511807
Published Jan 2017
Online discount: 25%
Full purchase $65.00

Covering a period from the late-fourteenth to mid-sixteenth century, Aileen A. Feng’s engagingly written work identifies and analyzes a Latin humanist precursor to the poetic movement known as Renaissance Petrarchism. Though Petrachism is usually read solely as a vernacular poetic tradition, in Writing Beloveds, Feng recovers the initial political purposes in Latin prose and traces how poetry set the terms for gender, agency, and power in early modern Italy.

By revealing the literary motifs in men’s and women’s writing about gender she maps how certain figures in Petrarch’s writing transmitted gendered ideas of power and reflected a growing anxiety about women as public figures. This work includes nuanced analyses of poetry, linguistic treatises, debates on imitation, representations of gender and epistolary correspondence in Latin and Italian. Writing Beloveds is a landmark study that highlights the new social reality of women writers in early modern Europe.

Aileen A. Feng is an associate professor of Italian at the University of Arizona.




PART I: Intellectual Masculinity and the Female Intellect in Humanist Petrarchism

Chapter 1 - Women of Stone: Gender and Politics in the Petrarchan World

Chapter 2 - In Laura’s Shadow: Gendered Dialogues and Humanist Petrarchis in the Fifteenth Century

Chapter 3 - Laura Speaks: Sisterhood, Amicitia, and Marital Love in the Female Latin Petrarchist Writings of the Fifteenth Century

PART II: Pietro Bembo and the Legacy of Humanist Petrarchism

Chapter 4 - Theorizing Gender: Nation Building and Female Mythology

in the Ciceronian Quarrels

Chapter 5 - Politicizing Gender: Bembo’s Private and Public Petrarchism



"Writing Beloveds is a deeply researched, carefully analyzed, and engagingly written work that offers a masterful study of Petrarch’s gender-inflected influence upon Latin humanist prose and Italian language poetry in the Renaissance."

William J. Kennedy, Department of Comparative Literature, Cornell University

"Aileen Feng has written a landmark reappraisal of the place of women humanists as writers, readers, and recipients of humanist praise. She adroitly blends her knowledge of women’s studies with an understanding of Renaissance poetics."

Timothy Kircher, Department of History, Guilford College