A Forgotten Bestselling Author: Laura Terracina in Early Modern Naples
University of Cambridge
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Papworth, A. (2019). A Forgotten Bestselling Author: Laura Terracina in Early Modern Naples (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.37333
This dissertation provides a critical assessment of Laura Terracina (1519-c.1577) and her works. It argues that she was a consummate product of her age, embodying the tensions which ruled the Italian peninsula. Terracina published eight books and left a ninth in manuscript at the time of her death, winning legions of admirers and making her sixteenth-century Italy’s most commercially successful female author. Yet in spite of her enormous popularity amongst her contemporaries, scholarship has largely neglected Terracina. This dissertation will open up an overdue field of enquiry into her life and works, exploring the significance of her role as a sixteenth-century female poet through the lenses of gender and class. By mapping her place in the literary landscape, it is hoped that this thesis will encourage scholars to afford Terracina the attention she so richly deserves. The first chapter of the dissertation situates Terracina as a poet of Naples, seeing her as a product of her family’s political standing within the city, her academician status, and her own construction of an urban coterie of supporters. The second chapter considers the mechanics of the journey into print, assessing Terracina’s own input and her close collaboration with male editors and publishers. It proposes a greater attribution of agency to Terracina than has thus far been made, arguing that she is, in fact, an important figure in the process of her texts reaching the hands of readers. The third chapter considers how the poet used her printed books as social tools, employing them to gain social and literary capital. The second section of the dissertation looks at two thematic strands within Terracina’s poetry. Chapter four considers her political poetry, including her attitude towards the harm done to civilian populations across Europe. Chapter five looks at the religious dimension to Terracina’s work, the spiritual poetry written in her later years, and the relationship this bears to her secular lyric. Finally, the dissertation concludes with a chapter on the contemporary reception of Terracina’s texts, providing preliminary thoughts on how she was read, before closing with a consideration of her literary afterlife in the centuries that followed.
Sixteenth century, women's writing, Naples, early modern, poetry, Italian
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.37333
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