A lively convent theater tradition flourished in early modern Italy, which is little known today, since it survives primarily in manuscripts, and in very few printed books. To remedy this oversight of history, we offer a selection of texts in Italian and in English translation, together with related documents and studies, chosen to introduce the reader to the work of some of the most accomplished convent authors and to highlight the recurrent themes of this literary tradition and the shared concerns of convent life in early modern Italy. The nine contributors to the volume provide selections from popular virgin martyr plays and allegories, plays that treat both religious and social issues central to the lives of women, such as marriage versus the convent, the dowry, the praise of virginity, the problems of communal living, and women’s education; since not all convent plays were religious, we include a marriage farce and a marriage of philosophers. We conclude our selections with a short play by Moderata Fonte, offered as evidence of the effects of convent education in the secular world, and with the a contested convent performance provided by the actresses and members of the audience.[Publisher's Text]
251 p. : ill.