DEBATE ABOUT WOMEN IN THE ENGLISH RENAISSANCE
Drawing on the last two decades of textual scholarship recovering the hidden literary cannon of women writers (OVoEME), this course is an introduction to the work of Shakespeare’s ‘literary sisters’ roughly between 1500 and 1700. The course will focus on a selection of primary sources (authored both by men and women) addressing the “issues of women” to show how these texts contribute to, and reflect the gender expectations of their authors and audiences. Particular attention will be paid to the mechanics of epideictic rhetoric, especially of claims blaming and scapegoating women for crises of mankind and/or nationhood, and its negotiations by female authors. The course is made up of three major topics: (1) the classical sources of medieval misogyny with the polemical "Querelle des femmes" tradition in the centre; (2) religious topics, with a particular focus on the narrative of Creation and the Fall, as it provided the dominant discourse justifying women’s subordination and, as such, the first and for long the only focus for women to engage in (re)interpretations and self-expressions in both life-writing, translations/paraphrases, theological debates, devotional works, poetry and fiction; (3) women’s place in the realm of politics, actual or imaginary relations of power.