They were announced by the Society for Early Modern Women. Here is the list of winners.

The Society for the Study of Early Modern Women announced the winners on October 29, 2004.

Book of the Year

The Awards Committee had to pick between two manuscripts tied for first place, so we’d like to thank everyone who entered.

Finalists Margaret Ferguson and Wendy Heller used the great transdisciplinary investigation to introduce us to new areas of study, prompting us to reevaluate previously accepted assumptions about their respective subjects.


A History of Early Modern England and France by Margaret W. Ferguson. University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Margaret Ferguson’s study of early modern Europe and current critical theory achieves two astonishing aims. The first chapter of the two-part book concentrates on different literary styles seen in early modern writings.

Preconceived ideas about how women engaged in literary history in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were dispelled by Professor Ferguson’s demonstration of the close relationship between literacy and gender, class, age, and national values.

Aphra Behn, Marguerite de Navarre, and Elizabeth Cary were all multilingual authors who challenged their own literary and national histories both tacitly and explicitly in Dido’s Daughters II.

Professor Ferguson’s study of these four women’s works shows the importance of gender in history. However, Dido’s Daughters emphasizes the importance of women’s literature in all early modern studies.

W. Heller, Opera and Women’s Voices in Seventeenth-Century Venice. Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: UC Press, 2003.

Wendy Heller’s intriguing study on early Venetian opera is significant for exploring how Venetians perceived themselves in community and as patriarchy at a period when gender was a hotly debated subject. On the Venetian opera stage, Heller investigates a wide range of cultural issues, merging them with Venice-specific concerns regarding musical style and vocal boldness.

Opera was introduced to a Venetian audience involved in critical conversations about women’s roles and ideals in the mid-17th century. Except for the renowned and contradictory courtesan, aristocratic women in Venice were kept in the shadows, de-voiced, and banned from public life.

Heller examines Venetian women’s life in light of mythical heroines whose narratives have become operatic icons. As a performer, she is curious about how these mythical stories influenced male and female roles.

The early modern opera had cross-dressers, transvestites, and castrati, and she examines the literary and physiological influences on libretti.

She also contributes.

Gesture, aria, arioso, and florid singing were central to the operatic traditions we now take for granted. In a virulently patriarchal culture, consider the beginnings of this musical genre, which has its roots in Venice.


Best Essay or Article Award:
The Queen’s Voice in Tempe Restored by Melinda J. Gough received the prize.
Modern Philology 101/1 has 48-67 pages (August 2003)


Queen Henrietta Maria’s theatrical productions were long criticized for their frivolity and lack of artistic skill. Tempe Restored, a 1632 masque the queen performed in and helped design, has thematic coherence, ideological importance, and dramatic value, according to Gough. The women’s masques at Marie de Medici’s court in France may have affected Henrietta Maria, Gough speculates.

It also indicates ties between ostentation and sincere humanism (a British term for religious faith). Last but not least, it examines how Tempe Restored defied convention by allowing “aristocratic and nonelite women to equally engage prominently in the social, political, and more dramatic duties of grandeur,” writes Gough. Nobody reading this long and thorough essay will deny this.

In the Palazzo Vecchio, Bruce Edelstein’s “The Camera Verde” won honorable mention.

France and the Middle East 51-87 (2003, French Studies in Italy and the Middle East).

Eleonora, Duchess of Florence’s 1553 inventory of the Camera Verde impresses Edelstein with its art and architectural heritage. The Camera Verde is Eleonora’s private bedroom.

Here, Eleonora’s vital administrative role as controller of the Medici lands and family funds was artistically presented. Edelstein indicates the space was utilized for ceremonial reasons by using evidence such as “mule covers” on the walls and ceiling.

Thus he sheds new light on early modern Italian women’s participation in public life.

Olympia Morata: An Italian Heretic’s Complete Writings, ed. Holt N. Parker This work was released by UC Press in 2003.

Olympia Morata, a 16th-century Italian humanist and evangelist, is translated in this book. Alleged Protestant heretic, she escaped to Germany. First English translations include her letters, poetry, and public speeches.

This book’s combination of Protestant and Catholic viewpoints, as well as global humanist learning, will benefit scholars and students alike. The book’s preface introduces Morata, her family, and the Reformation movement as a general.

The book includes copious notes, a bibliography, and an index.

Women in Early Modern Germany, ed. and transl., Joy Wiltenberg, is a mention. A Compendium of Famous Works Tucson, Arizona, 2002. The book came out in 2003.

It comprises translated essays (from both German and English literature) on issues including marriage, sexuality, family, and more. Each part begins with an overview of the work.

It is particularly useful since early modern German women’s literature is scarce in English. The novels are full with pop culture references and would be entertaining to teach.

Widowhood and Visual Culture in Early Modern Europe, ed. Alison Levy earned the Collaborative Project Award. Ashgate Publishers, Aldershot, 2003 (Hampshire, England).

Widowhood and Visual Culture is a collection of fifteen essays on early modern widowhood culture. The collection comprises works about Italy, England, Germany, France, Austria, and Spain. Funerals and memorials are explored in terms of persons and communities as well as cultural settings.

Timelessness and contemporaneity, complexity and contradiction, iconicity and malleability, ritual and representation, memory and history are all explored. This book will be useful to academics as well as classroom instructors. (We’d like to see a paperback edition.)

Sisters, Saints, and Sinners Editors: Jane L. Carroll and Alison G.

Medieval and Early Modern Northern Art. Ashgate, Aldershot, Hampshire, 2003.

This collection of studies on gender and art in Northern Europe fills a gap in the literature and is renowned for its research and pedagogical clarity. The articles also look at tapestries, jewels, and ivory.

The book’s accessible style elegantly blends art history, history, and cultural anthropology. Instead of a fixed component of identity, they regard “gender” as an interaction between men and women.

They also agree on the necessity for many interpretations and audience engagement.

This year’s winner was Patricia Pender’s “The Ghost in the Machine: Philip and Mary Sidney.” This study was presented at the GEMS 2003 conference.

The Committee praised Pender’s work for its original argument and outstanding writing style.

Pender convincingly shows Mary Sidney’s contribution to literary history is more than often appreciated. To accompany an edition of a book bearing her name that she had helped edit, Pender maintains that Mary Sidney is the material author of the 1598 Arcadia, but not the writer.

Pender emphasizes the social dimension of early modern print publication as a counterbalance to any assumptions about individualism.

To investigate the implications of referring to Mary Sidney as a “material author,” Pender uses Richard Helgerson’s renowned prodigal and laureate poets categories. Because of Mary’s “publishing campaign,” Philip is among the first early modern laureate writers, she claims (by her emphasis on his erotic and secular works).

Mary Sidney’s contributions to print culture are re-evaluated in Pender’s work, as are the critical paradigms used to establish literary history.

No awards were given to Arts & Media Project this year.

Award Committee Chair Amy Froide proposed this on November 9, 2003.

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