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Evolving the history of women in early modern Italy: Subordination and agency

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Chapter Summary

Following its chronological tetralogy on history of women in the West, in mid-1990s Laterza published a topical history of women in Italy. The early modern period, defined here as 1500–1750, which has garnered a rich literature in past thirty years, receives uneven attention in several volumes. The chapter highlights patterns of thought that have shaped both this collection and field: in particular, the practice of speaking of women as universal category and application of models of subordination and agency. It then uses the themes of four volumes to survey recent early modern research and also take up some major areas of women’s activities the body, intellectual and cultural life, and politics that, in part due the field’s habits of exposition, the series does not address directly. It also reflects on how breaking-up the universal “women” by thinking more systematically about social class, time, and space can strengthen scholarship in this field.

Keywords: agency; chronological tetralogy; cultural life; history of women; Italy; social class; subordination



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