Beasts and Beauties: Animals, Gender, and Domestication in the Italisn Renaissance

Overview

The question of what it means to be human has preoccupied thinkers since antiquity. The classical humanism of the Italian Renaissance saw humanity as hierarchical, with elite European males at the apex while women, lower class or foreign men, and animals occupied varying lesser degrees of being. Using the theme of domestication to interrogate the intertwined notions of femininity, sexuality, and animality, Juliana Schiesari looks to early modern Italy to uncover the origins of ...

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Overview

The question of what it means to be human has preoccupied thinkers since antiquity. The classical humanism of the Italian Renaissance saw humanity as hierarchical, with elite European males at the apex while women, lower class or foreign men, and animals occupied varying lesser degrees of being. Using the theme of domestication to interrogate the intertwined notions of femininity, sexuality, and animality, Juliana Schiesari looks to early modern Italy to uncover the origins of the modern conception of the human.

Beasts and Beauties examines the relationship between domesticity and power by focusing on the contemporaneous development of two phenomena - the invention of the 'pet' and the delineation of the home as a uniquely private enclosure, where the pater familias ruled over his own secluded world of domesticated wife, children, servants, and animals. Drawing upon canonical works and authors of the Italian Renaissance, Schiesari discusses how the figure of the animal resituates these works and provides a fresh perspective to how we as human beings perceive ourselves in relation to the world.

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What People Are Saying

Suzanne Magnanini

'Beasts and Beauties argues that Italian humanists constructed a domestic space that both reinforced a hierarchy of being in which the European male occupied the supreme position and functioned as a site of resistance where the first post-humanist critiques were born. By positioning the works of well-known humanists such as Petrarch and Alberti within the discourse of domesticity, Juliana Schiesari productively examines literature, art, and social practices in order to analyse what verbal and visual representations of animals can reveal about the construction of gender, race, and class in early modern Italy.'

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802099228
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
  • Publication date: 2/1/2010
  • Series: Toronto Italian Studies Series
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Juliana Schiesari is a professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Davis.
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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction 3
1. "Jewels of Women": Ladies, Laps and Lapdogs in Renaissance Culture 21
2. Portrait of the Poet as a Dog: Petrarch's Epistola Metrica III, 5 47
3. Alberti's Cavallo Vivo, or The "Art" of Domination 65
4. Della Porta's Face of Domestication: Physiognomy, Gender Politics and Humanism's Others 82
5. Psychoanalytic Intermezzo: Freud's Missed Reading of
Leonardo's Alternative Humanism
112
6. Versions of Diana: Gender and Renaissance Mythography 135
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