[UCP Books]: Divas in the Convent: Nuns, Music, and Defiance in Seventeenth-Century Italy

Praise for Nuns Behaving Badly
“Monson, a . . . self-proclaimed ‘archive mouse,’ happily scurries into this forgotten repository, retrieving tales of sororal transgressions, which range from affairs to arson.”
New Yorker
Nuns Behaving Badly wears its learning with a smile, but it throws a sharp light into dark Roman Catholic corners.”

Divas in the Convent
Nuns, Music, and Defiance in Seventh Century Italy

Craig A. Monson


Publication Date: July 16, 2012 978-0-226-53519-7
UK Publication Date: July 23, 2012 Paper $25.00/₤16.00


Following on the success of Nuns Behaving Badly, Craig A. Monson offers in Divas in the Convent a prequel of sorts, bringing to the fore the story of Lucrezia Orsina Vizzana (1590–1662), an eight-year-old girl who, after entering one of the preeminent convents in Bologna, not only learned music but also came to compose sacred works so thoroughly modern and expressive that a recent critic described them as “historical treasures.” But at the very moment when Vizzana’s works appeared in 1623, extraordinary troubles beset her and her fellow nuns, as episcopal authorities arrived to investigate anonymous allegations of sisterly improprieties with male members of their order.

Monson tells the story of Vizzana and the nuns of Santa Cristina to elucidate how these cloistered women asserted their independence in ways that often exasperated male church authorities. Monson explains how the sisters of Santa Cristina—refusing to accept what the church hierarchy called God’s will and what the nuns perceived as a besmirching of their honor—fought back with words and music, and when these proved futile, with bricks, roof tiles, and stones. These women defied one Bolognese archbishop after another, cardinals in Rome, and even the pope himself, until they were finally brought to their knees twenty-five years later. In restoring the musically gifted Lucrezia Orsina Vizzana to history, Monson introduces readers to the full range of captivating characters who played their parts in seventeenth-century convent life.
Craig A. Monson is professor of music at Washington University in St. Louis and the author of Nuns Behaving Badly: Tales of Music, Magic, Art, and Arson in the Convents of Italy.
Please contact Micah Fehrenbacher at (773) 702-7717 or micahf@uchicago.edu for more information.



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