Designed by Julian Fiorello

The Contest for Knowledge

ISBN 978-0-2260-1054-0
© University Of Chicago Press, 2005

At a time when women were generally excluded from scholarly discourse in the intellectual centers of Europe, four extraordinary female letterate proved their parity as they lectured in prominent scientific and literary academies and published in respected journals. During the Italian Enlightenment, Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Giuseppa Eleonora Barbapiccola, Diamante Medaglia Faini, and Aretafila Savini de' Rossi were afforded unprecedented deference in academic debates and epitomized the increasing ability of women to influence public discourse.

The Contest for Knowledge reveals how these four women used the methods and themes of their male counterparts to add their voices to the vigorous and prolific debate over the education of women during the eighteenth century. In the texts gathered here,

the women discuss the issues they themselves thought most urgent for the equality of women in Italian society specifically and in European culture more broadly. Their thoughts on this important subject reveal how crucial the eighteenth century was in the long history of debates about women in the academy.

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Critical Acclaim


"This new volume in the renowned University of Chicago series of translations and critical editions of the writings of early-modern European female authors collects a selection of contributions to the intense debate on the social status and education of women that characterised eighteenth-century Italy."
                Forum for Modern Language Studies, Volume 42, Issue 3

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"This volume is an important addition to the invaluable 'Other Voice in Early Modern Europe' series. It presents the voices of women involved in science and academia that are less known to modern scholars"
                          Vanessa McCarthy, Quaderni d'italianistica

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"Messbarger's and Findlen's book is a treasure trove of texts dealing with the controversy over the education of women in eighteenth-century Italy"
                                Cristina Mazzoni, Annali d"italianistica

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