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Convent Theatre in Early Modern Italy
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  • 17 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 322 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.64 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 792/.022
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: PN3178.C64 W43 2002
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Convent theater--Italy--History
    • Italian drama--To 1700--History and criticism
    • Italian drama--Women authors--History and criticism
    • Women and literature--Italy

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521550826 | ISBN-10: 0521550823)

This book is a study of convent theatre in Italy, an all-female tradition. Widespread in the early modern period, but virtually forgotten today, this activity produced a number of talented dramatists and works worthy of remembrance. Convent authors, actresses and audiences, especially in Tuscan houses, the plays written and produced, and what these reveal about the lives of convent women, are the focus of this book. Beginning with the earliest known performances of miracle and mystery plays (sacre rappresentazioni) in the late fifteenth century, the book follows the development in the convents at the turn of the sixteenth century of spiritual comedy and of a variety of dramatic forms in the seventeenth century. Convent theatre both reflected the high level of literacy among convent women and contributed to it, and it attested to the continuing close contact between the secular world and the convents - even in the Post Tridentine period.

• Brings in focus the topic of convent theatre in Italy • Draws on unusual and rare archives in which the author has discovered many talented women dramatists and their works • Shows a high level of culture and literacy among Italian nuns during the early modern period


List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; List of abbreviations; Notes on texts and translations; Introduction; 1. Renaissance culture in Italian convents, 1450–1650; 2. The convent theatre tradition; 3. Plays and playwrights: the earliest examples; 4. Spiritual comedies in the convents; 5. From manuscript to print, from the convent to the world; 6. Beyond Tuscany; Conclusion; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.


'Weaver is indeed to be congratulated on her meticulous research. Convent Theatre in Early Modern Italy emerges as a significant socio-historical document.' Italian Studies

'This is a fascinating book that will be useful for students and researchers of Italian literature and theatre and for feminist theatre historians alike.' New Theatre Quarterly

'… the importance of the volume as a contribution both to women's religious history and, more generally, to the history of women's writing.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History

'Weaver's book restores to an unself-consciously masculinist literary history both a vivid sense of theatrical practice as intrinsic to the community life of monastic women, and a sharply focused understanding of how monastic women playwrights in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries represented their own and laywomen's experiences of a gendered world.' Journal of Early Music History

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