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Valerio Zanetti

Valerio Zanetti

Department: History

Supervisor: Prof. Ulinka Rublack

College: St. John's

AHRC Subject Area: History

Title of Thesis: Embodied Feminity in Renaissance Europe


I graduated summa cum laude from the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, where my work focused on early modern, more specifically mannerist, iconography and iconology. I then completed an Eighteenth Century Studies MA at the University of Sheffield, where my dissertation examining political women’s dress during the French Revolution has been awarded a Petrie Watson Exhibition Prize.

My current project sets out to investigate Renaissance women’s embodied experiences and sartorial practices, revealing how they shaped contemporary conceptions of femininity. I am particularly interested in the emergence of a female sport culture in early modern Europe. I am chiefly intrigued by the issue of embodiment, and the opportunity for cultural historians to apply a ‘corporealist critique’ which challenges discourse theory and explores the complex braiding of culture and embodied cognition. More specifically, I am interested in how the construction of gendered identities is rooted in the body’s materiality and corporeally performed. In this perspective, I study fashion as a situated bodily practice which provides ‘technologies of the body’ essential to the performance of identity and gender. 

Other academic interests: 

I am interested in medical history, and more specifically in the history of the body.

In my research on historical clothing and fashion as embodied practice, I aim to tackle broader methodological questions related to material culture studies and the significance of object-based research. This interest has recently brought me to examine dress reconstruction as a valuable tool for the historian. 

I am intrigued by the complex issues, both practical and theoretical, which are involved in making history public through film and television.