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Anna-Luise Wagner

Anna-Luise Wagner

Department: Italian

Supervisor: Dr Helena Sanson

College: Selwyn College

AHRC Subject Area: Languages and Literature

Title of Thesis: Margherita Costa - A 'Virtuosa' on the Literary Stage of the Seicento


I completed my BA in Modern and Medieval Languages (French and Italian) at Clare College, Cambridge, during which I spent a year in the Collegio Ghislieri at the University of Pavia. I continued my studies at Clare College with an MPhil in European Literature and Culture. My studies primarily revolved around writing for and by women in early modern Italy and included dissertations on courtesans’ dress in Renaissance Venice, Petrarchan beauty ideals in cosmetic recipes, the role of women speakers in court entertainment, and marketing strategies to sell women writers and attract women readers in the sixteenth-century book market.

My doctoral research will focus on the work of Margherita Costa, who was one of the most prolific female authors of the Seicento, making her way in the courts of Rome, Florence, Turin and Paris as a 'virtuosa', a singer-actress, and courtesan. She published fourteen works across radically different genres and ventured into territories explored by few other early modern women authors, constantly bending the rigid rules of female decorum. This eclectic female figure inspired admiration in contemporary writers and patrons, but has been neglected by modern-day scholarship. 

Other Academic Interests:

My PhD project is perfectly suited to my academic interests in general, as it offers the possibility of interdisciplinary research, connecting literature and music, and encompasses diverse topics, like women’s conduct and education, as well as contributing to the ongoing effort of reclaiming the lost voices of early modern women writers throughout Europe.

Teacher for small groups of first- and second-year BA students in Italian art, literature, and film

Assistant Editor for Women Language Literature in Italy / Donna Lingua Letteratura in Italia. See here.

Co-convenor of ‘Writing Women in History’, an AHRC-funded reading group. See here.

Co-organiser of ‘Intersections: Between Music and Theatre in Seicento Italy’, two-day conference with public commedia dell’arte theatre workshop, in preparation for June 2018

Co-organiser, musical director, and performer for ‘Reaching Through Time: Approaches to Women in History Today’, one-day symposium and concert to mark Women’s History Month, in preparation for March 2018

Musical director and performer for public concert: ‘Amore, Magia, Follia in the Orlando furioso: A Musical Quest’, as conclusion to ‘The Fortunes of the Orlando furioso, 1516-2016’. See here.

Collaborator for book exhibition: ‘The Fortunes of the Orlando furioso, 1516-2016’. See here. 

Speakers Officer for Cambridge University German Society. See here.

Key Publications

‘“Amante monco a Donna senza naso”: Margherita Costa’s Baroque Parody of the Love Letter.’ Society of Italian Studies Conference; Hull, 2017 - paper held as part of a panel on early modern parody, co-organised with two senior colleagues from Dublin and Florence

Book reviews
Review of Simone Testa, Italian Academies and their Networks, 1525-1700: From Local to Global (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)