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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages


Anna Wagner

Anna Wagner
PhD candidate
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages
Contact details: 
Telephone number: 
+44 (0)1223 335 000 (Main Faculty number)

Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages
Raised Faculty Building
University of Cambridge
Sidgwick Avenue
United Kingdom


Anna completed her BA in Modern and Medieval Languages (French and Italian) at Clare College, Cambridge, during which time she spent a year in the Collegio Ghislieri at the University of Pavia. She continued her studies at Clare College with an MPhil in European Literature and Culture. Her studies primarily revolved around writing for and by women in early modern Italy and included dissertations on courtesans’ dress in Renaissance Venice, Petrarchan beauty ideals in cosmetic recipes, the role of women speakers in court entertainment, and marketing strategies used by ‘poligrafi’, like Lodovico Domenichi, to sell women writers and attract women readers in the sixteenth-century book market. She is currently a PhD candidate, supported by an AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership. 

Other activities

Co-convenor of ‘Writing Women in History’ reading group. See here.

Musical director of public concert: ‘Amore, Magia, Follia in the Orlando furioso: A Musical Quest’, as conclusion to ‘The Fortunes of the Orlando furioso, 1516-2016’. See here.

Collaborator for book exhibition: ‘The Fortunes of the Orlando furioso, 1516-2016’. See here.

Research interests: 

Anna's doctoral research is focused on the work of Margherita Costa (c.1600-c.1657). Costa was one of the most prolific female authors of the Seicento, making her way in the courts of Rome, Florence, Turin and Paris as a ‘virtuosa’, a singer-actress, and courtesan. She published fourteen works across radically different genres and ventured into territories explored by few other early modern women writers, constantly bending the rigid rules of female decorum. This eclectic female figure inspired admiration in contemporary writers and patrons, but has been neglected by modern-day scholarship. 

Her PhD project is perfectly suited to her academic interests in general, as it offers the possibility of interdisciplinary research, connecting literature and music, and encompasses diverse topics, like women’s conduct and education, as well as contributing to the ongoing effort of reclaiming the lost voices of early modern women writers throughout Europe.