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The Contest for Knowledge

Debates over Women’s Learning in Eighteenth-Century Italy

At a time when women were generally excluded from scholarly discourse in the intellectual centers of Europe, four extraordinary female letterate proved their parity as they lectured in prominent scientific and literary academies and published in respected journals. During the Italian Enlightenment, Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Giuseppa Eleonora Barbapiccola, Diamante Medaglia Faini, and Aretafila Savini de’ Rossi were afforded unprecedented deference in academic debates and epitomized the increasing ability of women to influence public discourse.

The Contest for Knowledge reveals how these four women used the methods and themes of their male counterparts to add their voices to the vigorous and prolific debate over the education of women during the eighteenth century. In the texts gathered here, the women discuss the issues they themselves thought most urgent for the equality of women in Italian society specifically and in European culture more broadly. Their thoughts on this important subject reveal how crucial the eighteenth century was in the long history of debates about women in the academy.

208 pages | 1 halftone | 6 x 9 | © 2005

The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe

Education: Philosophy of Education

History: European History

Literature and Literary Criticism: Romance Languages

Women's Studies

Table of Contents

Series Editors' Introduction
The Italian Enlightenment Reform of the Querelle des Femmes
Volume Editors' Bibliography
I. Giuseppa Eleonora Barbapiccola
Translator's Introduction
The Translator to the Reader: Preface to René Descartes's Principles of Philosophy (1722)
II. The Debate of the Academy of the Ricovrati
Translator's Introduction
To the Gracious Reader, from Giovanni Antonio Volpi (1729)
Antonio Vallisneri, Introduction on the Problem: Should Women Be Admitted to the Study of the Sciences and the Liberal Arts (1723)
Giovanni Antonio Volpi, Protest Regarding His Academic Discourse on the Education of Women (1729)
Antonio Vallisneri, Judgment on the Problem (1723)
III. Aretafila Savini de' Rossi 
Translator's Introduction
Apology in Favor of Studies for Women, against the Preceding Discourse by Signor Antonio Volpi (1723)
IV. Maria Gaetana Agnesi
Translator's Introduction
The Studies of the Liberal Arts by the Female Sex Are by No Means Inappropriate (1727)
V. Diamante Medaglia Faini
Translator's Introduction
An Oration on Which Studies Are Fitting for Women (1763)

Series Editors' Bibliography

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