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Publishing Women

Salons, the Presses, and the Counter-Reformation in Sixteenth-Century Italy

Even the most comprehensive Renaissance histories have neglected the vibrant groups of women writers that emerged in cities across Italy during the mid-1500s—and the thriving network of printers, publishers, and agents that specialized in producing and selling their books. In Publishing Women, Diana Robin finally brings to life this story of women’s cultural and intellectual leadership in early modern Italy, illuminating the factors behind—and the significance of—their sudden dominance.

Focusing on the collective publication process, Robin portrays communities in Naples, Venice, Rome, Siena, and Florence, where women engaged in activities that ranged from establishing literary salons to promoting religious reform. Her innovative cultural history considers the significant roles these women played in tandem with men, rather than separated from them. In doing so, it collapses the borders between women’s history, Renaissance and Reformation studies, and book history to evoke a historical moment that catapulted women’s writings and women-sponsored books into the public sphere for the first time anywhere in Europe.

416 pages | 13 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2007

Women in Culture and Society

History: European History

Library Science and Publishing: Publishing

Literature and Literary Criticism: Classical Languages, Romance Languages

Religion: Christianity, Comparative Studies and History of Religion

Women's Studies


“Vivid and compelling. Diana Robin traces and links the lives and writings of a large cast of characters—women writers, their publishers, the political leaders and popes with whom they were embroiled—in a tour de force of sustained narrative into which extensive and illuminating passages of text are skillfully woven.”

Dale Kent, University of California, Riverside

"A smorgasbord of delicacies for the hungry reader. [Robins] narrative style is so flowing and seamless that the reader will find it difficult to put the book down. . . . Everyone from undergraduate to Renaissance scholar will enjoy this journey through mid-Cinquecento Italy."

Elizabeth H.D. Mazzocco | Renaissance Quarterly

"This clearly written and useful work fulfills its promise of putting women’s literary production on the agenda. . . . Robin offers the reader a guiided tour of early modern poetry that will startle even those scholars well gounded in this literary period with its dazzling expertise and complexity."

Laura Prelipcean | Quaderni d'Italianistica

" in data and information and highly sensitive to the historical point of view...Robin offers an excellent analysis and description of the series of poetic anthologies that appeared in Italy beginning in 1545, an analysis that is extremely helpful for an awareness of this important cultural (and industrial) aspect of poetic production of the Renaissance."

Roberto Fedi | Journal of Modern History

"...Robin's careful work is a contribution not only to women's studies but also to the likewise popular field now of the history of the book and publishing."


Table of Contents


Foreward by Catharine R. Stimpson



Note on the Texts

ONE. Ischia and the Birth of a Salon
TWO. From Naples to Venice: The Publication of Two Salons
THREE. Rome: The Salt War Letters of Vittoria Colonna
FOUR. Between Rome and Venice: The Temples of Giovanna d’Aragona
FIVE. Laudomia Forteguerri’s Canzoniere and the Fall of Siena
SIX. Florence: Intimate Dialogues and the End of the Reform Movement

APPENDIX A. The Giolito Poetry Anthology Series: Titles, Printers, Editors, Dedicatees, Poets in Editions 1545-1560
APPENDIX B. Descriptions of the Fifteen Volumes of the Giolito Anthology Series: 1545-1560
APPENDIX C. Chronology of Events
APPENDIX D. Biographical-Bibliographical Index of Authors, Patrons, Editors




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