A Companion to Vittoria Colonna


Vittoria Colonna (1490-1547) was the genre-defining secular woman writer of Renaissance Italy, whose literary model helped to establish a decorous and wholly assimilated voice for women within the field of Italian literature. The Companion to Vittoria Colonna brings together an international and interdisciplinary group of leading scholars to assess Colonna’s contribution, both as a writer, a role model, and a contributor to important religious debates of the era.
This book, while amply fulfilling the remit of providing a useful and comprehensive handbook to meet the needs of students and scholars at earlier and advanced levels, aims in addition to do more than this, by drawing into a single volume for the first time scholarship from across disciplines in which Vittoria Colonna’s influence has been felt, including literary criticism, religious history, history of art and music.

Contributors are: Abigail Brundin, Stephen Bowd, Emidio Campi, Eleonora Carinci, Adriana Chemello, Virginia Cox, Tatiana Crivelli, Maria Forcellino, Gaudenz Freuler, Anne Piéjus, Diana Robin, Helena Sanson, and Maria Serena Sapegno.

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Abigail Brundin is a Reader in Early Modern Literature and Culture in the Department of Italian at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of St Catharine’s College. She has published on women writers in the first age of print, on literature and religious reform, including censorship and the first Indexes of Prohibited Books, and on poetry in and around convents. Her books include Vittoria Colonna, Sonnets for Michelangelo (Chicago: 2005) and Vittoria Colonna and the Spiritual Poetics of the Italian Reformation (Aldershot: 2008).

Tatiana Crivelli is Professor of Italian Literature at the University of Zurich, where from 2004 to 2014 she also directed the Centre for Renaissance Studies. She has published books on Giacomo Leopardi and on the novel in 18th-century Italy, but among her research interests women’s writing has a particular relevance. Her most recent books are La donzelletta che nulla temea. Percorsi alternativi nella letteratura italiana tra Sette e Ottocento (Rome: 2014) and Pellegra Bongiovanni, Risposte a nome di Madonna Laura alle Rime di Messer Francesco Petrarca in vita della medesima (Rome-Padua: 2014).

Maria Serena Sapegno teaches medieval Italian Literature (Boccaccio and Petrarca), renaissance culture (political thought, historiography, utopian treatises, women poets), and 19th-century literature at “La Sapienza” University of Rome, where she also teaches Women’s and Gender Studies. Her most recent publications are Il senso e le forme. Storia e Antologia della letteratura Italiana (Florence: 2011) and L’Italia dei poeti (Rome: 2013).

“This volume gathers together much essential information that a scholar would wish to have at hand, including Colonna’s biography, thorough accounts of early editions of her poetry, a catalogue of known portraits, and the record of Michelangelo’s presentation drawings. But this is no mere handbook. The volume holds much that will be novel and engaging for even the most dedicated Colonna scholar.”
Shannon McHugh, University of Massachusetts. In: Early Modern Women, Vol. 14, No. 2 (2020), pp. 179–182.

Notes on Editors and Contributors
List of Figures
Timeline: Vittoria Colonna in Context
Note on the Text
Bibliographical Abbreviations

Part I: Vittoria Colonna: Life and Letters
Abigail Brundin, Tatiana Crivelli, and Maria Serena Sapegno
Chapter 1: Vittoria Colonna’s Epistolary Works
Adriana Chemello

Part II: The Poetry
Chapter 2: Vittoria Colonna in Manuscript
Abigail Brundin
Chapter 3: The Print Tradition of Vittoria Colonna’s Rime
Tatiana Crivelli
Chapter 4: The Rime: A Textual Conundrum?
Maria Serena Sapegno
Chapter 5: Vittoria Colonna and Language
Helena Sanson

Part III: Vittoria Colonna and the Arts
Chapter 6: Vittoria Colonna: The Pictorial Evidence
Gaudenz Freuler
Chapter 7: Colonna and Michelangelo: Drawings and Paintings
Maria Forcellino
Chapter 8: Musical Settings of the Rime
Anne Piéjus

Part IV: Vittoria Colonna and Religion
Chapter 9: Prudential Friendship and Religious Reform: Vittoria Colonna and Gasparo Contarini
Stephen Bowd
Chapter 10: Vittoria Colonna and Bernardino Ochino
Emidio Campi
Chapter 11: Religious Prose Writings
Eleonora Carinci

Part V: Vittoria Colonna as Literary Model and Authority Figure
Chapter 12: The Lyric Voices of Vittoria Colonna and the Women of the Giolito Anthologies, 1545–1559
Diana Robin
Chapter 13: The Exemplary Vittoria Colonna
Virginia Cox


All interested in all aspects of Italian Renaissance Culture. This Companion will serve as a core text for academic libraries.
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