skip to content

IT4: Reading List

Preliminary reading on autobiography in general:

  • L. Anderson, Autobiography (London: Routledge, 2000)
  • P. Lejeune, Le Pacte autobiographique (1975): see 'The Autobiographical Contract' in T. Todorov, ed. , French Literary Theory Today (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1982)
  • J. Olney, ed., Autobiography: Essays Theoretical and Critical (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1980)
  • R. Pascal, Design and Truth in Autobiography (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1960)
  • J. Sturrock, The Language of Autobiography (Cambridge: CUP, 1993)

Preliminary reading on autobiography in Italy:

  • 'Autobiography', entry in Oxford Companion to Italian Literature (Oxford: OUP, 2002)
  • A. Battistini, Lo specchio di Dedalo. Biografia e autobiografia (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1990)
  • F. D'Intino, L'autobiografia moderna. Storia, forme, problemi (Roma, Bulzoni, 1998)
  • M. Guglielminetti, 'Biografia e autobiografia', in Letteratura italiana. Vol. v. Le questioni, edited by A. Asor Rosa (Turin: Einaudi, 1986), pp.829-86

1. Dante and Petrarch

Core texts

  • Dante, Vita Nuova. Students should if possible buy the edition published by University of Notre Dame Press, ed. Dino Cervigni and Edward Vasta. Otherwise any other edition with a facing-page English translation will do.
  • Petrarch, Canzoniere. Students should if possible buy the edition published by Indiana University Press, ed. and trans. Mark Musa. Otherwise any other edition with facing page English translation will do. Read as much of the Canzoniere as you can. Lectures, supervisions, and exams will focus on the following poems: 1, 3, 5, 16, 35, 61, 62, 70, 74, 81, 82, 90, 126, 128, 134, 159, 264, 267, 268, 286, 302, 320, 365, 366

Secondary reading on Dante:

  • Rachel Jacoff, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Dante (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)
  • Robert Pogue Harrison The Body of Beatrice (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1988)
  • Dante, Rime giovanili e della 'Vita Nuova', ed. by Teodolinda Barolini; with notes by Manuele Gragnolati (Milan: Rizzoli, 2009)
  • Manuele Gragnolati, 'Authorship and Performance in Dante's Vita nova' in Aspects of the Performative in Medieval Culture, Manuele Gragnolati and Almut Suerbaum, eds. (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2010), pp. 123-40

Secondary reading on Dante and Petrarch:

  • Teodolinda Barolini, Dante and the Origins of Italian Literary Culture (New York: Fordham University Press, 2006)
  • Zygmunt Baranksi and Theodore J. Cachey Jr., eds. Petrarch and Dante: Anti-Dantism, Metaphysics, Tradition (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2009)

 Secondary reading on Petrarch:

  • Giuseppe Mazzotta, The Worlds of Petrarch (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1993)
  • Victoria Kirkham and Armando Maggi, eds. Petrarch: A Critical Guide to the Complete Works (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2009)

2. Early Modern Women’s Letters

Core texts

·      Veronica Franco: A useful modern edition and translation including a selection of Franco's letters is the one published in the Chicago 'Other Voice' series: Veronica Franco, Poems and selected letters, ed. and trans. by Ann Rosalind Jones and Margaret F. Rosenthal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998) [The 15 letters included here are cited only in translation, however.] The introduction to this volume is particularly useful. The Italian originals of Franco's letters in a sixteenth-century edition can be consulted on line at:
[Photocopies of some letters will be provided in the course material.]

·      Arcangela Tarabotti: A modern edition of Tarabotti's letters has been published: Arcangela Tarabotti, Lettere familiari e di complimento, ed. Meredith Ray and Lynn Westwater (Turin: Rosenberg and Sellier, 2005) [Photocopies of some letters will be provided in the course materials]

General bibliography on early modern letters:

  • Maria Luisa Doglio, Lettera e Donna: Scrittura epistolare al femminile tra Quattro e Cinquecento (Rome: Bulzoni, 1993)
  • Maria Luisa Doglio, L'arte delle lettere: idea e pratica della scrittura epistolare tra Quattro e Seicento (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2000)
  • Gabriella Zarri, ed., Per lettera. La scrittura epistolare femminile tra archivio e tipografia, secoli XV-XVII (Rome: Viella, 1999)
  • Early Modern Women and Transnational Communities of Letters, ed. Julie D. Campbell and Anne R. Larson (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009) [see especially the articles on Italy, including on Arcangela Tarabotti]

General bibliography on renaissance notions of 'selfhood':

  • Greenblatt, Stephen, Renaissance Self-Fashioning from More to Shakespeare (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980)
  • Greene, Thomas, 'The Flexibility of the Self in Renaissance Literature,' in The Disciplines of Criticism: Essays in Literary Theory, Interpretation, and History, ed. Peter Demetz et al (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968), 241-64
  • Martin, John, 'Inventing Sincerity, Refashioning Prudence: The Discovery of the Individual in Renaissance Europe,' American Historical Review 102 (1997): 1309-42
  • Weissman, Ronald F.E., 'The Importance of Being Ambiguous: Social Relations, Individualism, and Identity in Renaissance Florence,' in Urban Life in the Renaissance, ed. Susan Zimmerman and Ronald F.E. Weissman (Newark, Del.: University of Delaware Press, 1989)

Secondary reading on Veronica Franco:

  • Margaret Rosenthal, The Honest Courtesan: Veronica Franco, citizen and writer in sixteenth-century Venice (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992)
  • Maria Luisa Doglio, 'Scrittura e "offizio di parole" nelle "lettere familiari" di Veronica Franco' in Lettera e Donna: Scrittura epistolare al femminile tra Quattro e Cinquecento (Rome: Bulzoni, 1993), pp.33-48
  • Meredith Kennedy Ray, 'Settling the Debt: Veronica Franco's Literary Economics', available on line at:

Secondary reading on Arcangela Tarabotti:

  • Elissa B. Weaver, ed., Arcangela Tarabotti: A Literary Nun in Baroque Venice (Ravenna: Longo, 2006) [See in particular the essays by Lynn Westwater and Meredith Ray on Tarabotti's letters]
  • Meredith Kennedy Ray, 'Letters from the Cloister: defending the literary self in Arcangela Tarabotti's Lettere familiari e di complimento', available on line at:
  • Arcangela Tarabotti, Paternal tyranny, edited and translated by Letizia Panizza (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004) - see the 'Volume Editor's Introduction'

3. 20th-Century Women's Autobiography

Core texts

  • Sibilla Aleramo Una Donna (1906)
  • Anna Banti Artemisia (1947)

Preliminary reading on Aleramo:

  • Buttafuoco, Ada and Zancan, Marina, 1988. Svelamento. Sibilla Aleramo: una biografia intellettuale. Milano: Feltrinelli.
  • Conti, Bruna and Morino, Alba, 1981. Sibilla Aleramo e il suo tempo. Vita raccontata e illustrata. Milano: Feltrinelli.
  • Contorbia, Franco et al., 1986. Sibilla Aleramo: coscienza e scrittura. Milano: Feltrinelli.
  • Fanning, Ursula, 1999. 'Sibilla Aleramo's Una donna: A case study in woman's autobiographical fiction', in The Italianist, 164-77.
  • Grimaldi Morosoff, Anna, 1999. Transfigurations: the Autobiographical Novels of Sibilla Aleramo. New York: Peter Lang.
  • Kroha, Lucienne, 1992. 'Strategies of intertextuality in Sibilla Aleramo's Una donna, in The Woman Writer in Late-Nineteenth-Century Italy: Gender and the Formation of Literary Identity. Lewiston and Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press.
  • Zancan, Marina, 1995. 'Una donna di Sibilla Aleramo', in Letteratura italiana. Le opere, Vol. IV t. 1 L'età della crisi, edited by Alberto Asor Rosa. Torino: Einaudi. Pp 101-148.

Preliminary reading on Banti:

  • Biagini, Enza (ed.), L'opera di Anna Banti (Firenze: Leo S. Olschki, 1997).
  • Cannon, JoAnn, 'Artemisia and the Life Story of the Exceptional Woman', Forum Italicum, 28(2), 1994 Fall, 322-41.
  • Heller, Deborah, 'History, Art, and Fiction in Anna Banti's Artemisia', in Aricò, Santo L. (ed.) Contemporary Women Writers in Italy. A Modern Renaissance (Amherst: The University of Massachussetts Press, 1990; 44-60).
  • Torriglia, Anna Maria, 'From Mother to Daughter: the Emergence of a Female Genealogy in Anna Banti's Artemisia and Alba de Céspedes's Dalla parte di lei', Italica, 73(3), 1996 Autumn, 369-87.
  • Scarparo, Susanna, 'Artemisia: the Invention of a 'Real' Woman', Italica, 79(3), 2002 Autumn, 363-78.

4. Oral history, memory and 1968: Passerini and Portelli

Core texts

  • Luisa Passerini, Autoritratto di gruppo (Florence: Giunti, 1988)
  • Alessandro Portelli, selections of essays from: Storie orali : racconto, immaginazione, dialogo (Rome: Donzelli, 2007); The Battle of Valle Giulia : oral history and the art of dialogue (Madison: U of Wisconsin Press, 1997)

Further reading to follow shortly.