In 2013, Palgrave Macmillan published Melinda Zook’s Protestantism, Politics, and Women in Early Modern Britain, 1660-1714.

The SSEMW Book Prize goes to Melinda S. Zook’s Protestantism, Politics, and Women in Britain, 1660-1714.

This book makes the case for including women’s political participation in Restoration England’s academic accounts. Religious belief was “a fundamental motivator for political participation, affiliation, and allegiance” in late Stuart England, according to Zook.

Women from both the Whig and Tory sides have made significant political achievements. As Zook explains, the terms “sanctified sister” and “nursing mother” were used to recognize women who toiled for Protestantism and Anglicanism, respectively.

Zook addresses middle and upper-class women who helped prosecute Protestants, Aphra Behn’s Anglican commitments, and Mary II, who grew nurtured in the Protestant Netherlands before becoming Queen of England. Zook’s huge work effectively articulates its key critical points despite the hard effort necessary to extract Stuart women’s voices and political convictions.

George McClure’s Parlour Games and the Public Life of Women in Renaissance Italy, University of Toronto Press, 2013; mention.

George McClure’s work is meticulous and unique.

Is McClure’s fascinating and engaging study of sixteenth-and seventeenth-century Siena game-playing and female autonomy answering Joan Kelly’s famous question? Parlour Games, a paradigm of scholarly research and well-framed argument, focuses on the wives and daughters of the Italian patriciate.

According to this insightful book, Italian women had a Renaissance, marked by increased social status, a place at the table, and a fresh discussion of gender relations.



Barbara Torelli Benedetti’s Partenia, a Pastoral Play Barbara Burgess-Van Aken and Lisa Sampson (Toronto, 2013)

Partenia, by Barbara Torelli Benedetti, is an Italian neoclassical secular drama. It was thus significant to locate the only two extant manuscripts in the twentieth century. As a result, Sampson and Burgess Van-famous Aken’s book is now available in paperback.

Female audiences like pastoral plays because they deliver pleasant, modest, and gently informative text without imposing rigid structure. A love story with a purpose. Two shepherds worship a chaste nymph called Partenia.

Her father forces her to marry his opponent despite her vowing not to marry anyone else. Partenia’s favorite shepherd and long-lost brother die, and the shepherd her father determines should be her husband also dies.

Everyone rejoices at the happy end. Torelli’s focus on the play’s spiritual, Christian side, as well as her representation of women’s fears of forced marriage, kept pastoral theater popular and prominent in the late sixteenth century.

In the years after its creation, Church authorities were more concerned about the mingling of religious themes with secular theatre, which likely led to the play’s obscurity.

When addressing Torelli’s life, the author discusses her literary circles and the influence of convent drama on her writing. There are also textual annotations concerning the original manuscript’s status, and the current editors’ opinions. Italian poetry is translated into English prose with little alteration for readability.

Endnotes are relegated to the play’s text’s back, yet they are an invaluable resource for academics and students alike. The appendix contains on-page comments to help students and scholars understand more about Torelli’s reputation and image.

“The name is barbarian, but the face is gentle,” one of these poets says of Barbara. This reminds me of Mary Wroth’s “worthiness” or Katherine Philips’ physical beauty (and the loss of it). Torelli’s Partenia, in this new edition, will excite readers’ interest in early modern women writers who contributed to pastoral writing in English and other languages.



Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal 8 (2013), 5–52:

Diane Wolfthal’s vibrant painting includes images of female slaves from the 17th and 18th centuries. It is argued that art historians have been too dismissive of working women in early modern art and too focused on other, loftier issues.

This exclusion is permissible since women servants are typically depicted as simple foils for their wealthy employers, or as symbols of domestic virtue and immorality (or simply as background stuff).

The female slave pictures in Wolfthal’s study illustrate that the painters could look past their lowly circumstances to the persons with whom they were on close, even intimate terms.

They range from a Dürer-style black servant to William Beale-style maidservants to paintings by John Riley and William Sonmans of elderly women who had been in service for decades.

Instead of drawing generalizations about this genre, Wolfthal studies each picture or set of portraits in detail and delivers meaningful, nuanced remarks. This update will immensely aid early modern women artists.

The essay and its many excellent images appeal to early modern working women historians. Our main emphasis is on identifying early modern working women in archives where their voices are seldom heard. It’s rare for them to look back.



Feminist Fetishism in Early Modern Spain and Latin America 14.2 (2013). Special issue of Spanish Cultural Studies

“Nothing like it” in women’s shoes. As Noelia Cirnigliaro begins her wonderful introduction to this engaging collection of work from all fields. Similar to the book’s seemingly mundane subject matter, footwear has the ability to expand human experience in physiological, material, social, political, and cross-cultural realms.

We analyze footwear in the Iberian context using historical and trans-Mediterranean ties, theatrical cross-dressing, and moralizing literary equivalents. The shoe, according to John Beusterien’s piece, is “an object that perpetually points out of itself.”

The book’s methodological rethinking of early modern women’s shoes and their effect on fashion is noteworthy. And, unlike objects, the introduction and first essay make major discoveries by working across categories, fields, cultures, genders and orientations.

Metaphors may provide insight. Identifying shoes as themes of elevation and groundedness, movement, stasis and confinement, craftsmanship, labor, and objectification, Cirnigliaro argues in his article (108). There’s something for everyone in this anthology: a worldwide perspective.

Honorable Mention for Early Modern Habsburg Women, edited by Anne J. Cruz and Maria Galli Stampino.

G.A. (2013)

This book includes essays on six extraordinary Habsburg women from Spain and Austria. A vicereine and a nun were among the writers of these works who crossed national and disciplinary borders in multifarious diplomacy.

As a great beginning, writers Anne Cruz and Maria Stampino’s work shows the range of women’s history beyond political, academic, and methodological boundaries.



Three Spanish Querelle Texts: Mirabella, Grisel, and a Slander Against Women, edited and translated by Emily Francomano (Toronto, 2013)

These cancioneros, or manuscript songbooks, often featured lines about women’s nature, implying their participation in a passionate, and often vituperative, disagreement.

It includes Emily Francomano’s outstanding bilingual publication of Spanish querelle manuscripts Slander against Women and The Defense of the Ladies Against Slanderers by Pere Torrellas, as well as Juan de Flores’ Grisel and Mirebella. This last stanza is perhaps best known in English-speaking countries today as the source for the Jacobean farce Swetnam the Women Hater.

The same sexist and profeminine arguments and conceits are present in numerous European querelle literature, but Francomano makes a compelling case for reading each work in its particular cultural contexts.

Her colorful, sharp introduction to Torrellas and Flores masterfully demonstrates how the shifting status of noblemen and educated men made the character of women a fascinating and hot topic for ambitious self-fashioning writers.

As Grisel and Mirabella became more well known in the sixteenth century, it gained prominence in an age of Spanish domination with several ruling queens and female regents.

By making these translations available in English, Francomano helps academics from many languages to better understand these rich, vital literature.

The works are difficult to translate, but Francomano has handled them with beauty and precision. The translations are accurate in style and grammar, but also clear and understandable. This issue will undoubtedly attract a broad and enthusiastic readership.



Treatises by Kind Physicians and Surgeons on Pregnancy and Birth in Early Modern France, ed. and trans (1581-1625)
(The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe, 2013)

This substantial anthology brings together five early modern French authors on women’s reproductive health and childbirth. Given that these works were created by males, the subject of how they reflect “another voice” is of special importance.

According to this paper, many medical texts on women’s health reflect medical and philosophical concerns about what it means to be a woman.

These gynecological treatises are generally focused to defending women’s reproductive and overall health, according to Worth-Stylianou. This collection is appropriate for medical and women’s history students.

An introduction by the editor makes each treatise more accessible to both individual authors and the collective.

Each chapter ends with footnotes and glossaries that incorporate medical and herbal terms as well as medical authority. With its early-modern French grammar, the translation is comprehensible.

This collection should inspire students, scholars, and the general public to study these fascinating but hitherto unavailable publications.

Projects in Digital Scholarship, New Media, and Art
Michael Questier; Caroline Bowden; Jan Broadway; David Horne (Principal Investigator, 2012-2013). (2008-2011)

Prosopographical study of English exile convents 1600-1800

It shows how a group of notable academics may use technology to collaboratively make archive content accessible to scholarly communities. The website’s archives include information from convent archives in England, Belgium, France, and the United States, as well as material from external archives.

Sources utilized include those on nuns’ baptisms and families, occupations, dowry payments, deaths, property transfers, and administrative tasks and activities. Aside from being aesthetically beautiful and easy to use, search engines can accept a broad variety of queries.

With a few keystrokes, one may discover about the musical nun “Ann Smith,” who vowed on September 29, 1664, at the age of 17 and “has a very delicat Voice, and Excellent skill to educate.

” This website adds to the study of early modern European cloistered women by providing information on their communities, regional organizations, and family economic and social status. They should be applauded for their continuous dedication, which will surely drive new research in the years to come.

Female Counterfeiters in Late Stuart London, by Abigail A. Fisher “‘As well be hang’d for Murder as for Clipping’: I presented my findings at the NACBS in Portland, Oregon, in 2013.

Fisher’s paper on women’s economic participation in Stuart London is a powerful mix of historical facts and innovative concepts. This essay challenges long-held ideas regarding women’s roles in early modern crime, as well as our understanding of women’s labor and agency.

Fisher saw the coiner as a strong entrepreneur, eager to spend heavily in her trade equipment despite the danger of death punishment, employing and training both men and women in the skilled work of physically manufacturing money. Fisher’s portrait is intriguing.

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