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Wings for Our Courage

Wings for Our Courage: Gender, Erudition, and Republican Thought

Stephanie H. Jed
Series: FlashPoints
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 298
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  • Book Info
    Wings for Our Courage
    Book Description:

    On January 6, 1537, Lorenzino de' Medici murdered Alessandro de' Medici, the duke of Florence. This episode is significant in literature and drama, in Florentine history, and in the history of republican thought, because Lorenzino, a classical scholar, fashioned himself after Brutus as a republican tyrant-slayer.Wings for Our Courageoffers an epistemological critique of this republican politics, its invisible oppressions, and its power by reorganizing the meaning of Lorenzino's assassination around issues of gender, the body, and political subjectivity. Stephanie H. Jed brings into brilliant conversation figures including the Venetian nun and political theorist Archangela Tarabotti, the French feminist writer Hortense Allart, and others in a study that closely examines the material bases-manuscripts, letters, books, archives, and bodies-of writing as generators of social relations that organize and conserve knowledge in particular political arrangements. In her highly original study Jed reorganizes republicanism in history, providing a new theoretical framework for understanding the work of the scholar and the social structures of archives, libraries, and erudition in which she is inscribed.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95005-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    In the summer of 1983, I experienced a kind of intellectual conversion at the Newberry Library in a seminar on paleography taught by professors Armando Petrucci and Franca Nardelli. As we studied and analyzed, each day, different exempla of “Italian” handwriting from the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries, I learned to shift my interpretive focus from linguistic signs and their relation to “things” out in the world to graphic signs and their signification of social relations on the page. We learned that the various physical clothing in which language appears—including different types of handwriting, varying degrees of handwriting proficiency,...

  6. SECTION ONE Slaying the Tyrant, 1536–2011
    (pp. 23-78)

    Instead of beginning with a published account of Lorenzino’s murder of Alessandro de’ Medici, the Duke of Florence, I begin with a letter written three days after the murder (on January 9, 1537) by Giovanni Antonio, nicknamed “the Tailor,” a low-level bureaucrat in Charles V’s imperial machinery. He was employed by Charles V’s governor of Milan, Marino Caracciolo, to supervise the postal station of Bologna and to send any news of importance to imperial politics.² His letters are conserved in the State Archive of Milan under the classifications “Chancery of the State of Milan” (Cancelleria dello Stato di Milano) and...

  7. SOCIAL INTERSECTION: 1565–1995, between Mexico City, the Mountains of Chiapas, Bologna, Friuli, and Los Angeles
    (pp. 79-83)

    In September 1994, the political scientist Adolfo Gilly sent a copy of Carlo Ginzburg’s essay “Clues: Roots of an Evidential Paradigm” to the Zapatista subcomandante Marcos in Chiapas with the following handwritten dedication: “This theorizing of the thought of old Antonio (and of Heriberto) (and sometimes yours …) goes with all my affection” (“Con todo cariño, va esta teorización sobre el pensamiento del viejo Antonio [y de Heriberto] [y el tuyo, a veces …]”).¹ On October 22, Marcos responded to Gilly with a critique of the essay. On April 16, 1995, Gilly wrote again, explaining at length the reasons he...

  8. SECTION TWO Wings for My Courage
    (pp. 84-135)

    Historians have traditionally told a story of republican thought that, requiring the rape of a noblewoman as a precondition of republican freedom, culminated in the French Revolution and the consolidation of republicanism as a conversation among brothers.¹ In the course of my research on Lorenzino, I have looked for a way out of this apparent historical destiny, seemingly etched in concrete in our political imaginations, imagining the possibility of an earlier moment on the road to the French Revolution, a historical perspective that included in the meaning of republicanism the voices of women—not as violated ciphers but as political...

  9. SOCIAL INTERSECTION: 1536–2011, between San Diego, Milan, Rome, Venice, Florence, and Paris
    (pp. 136-139)

    Sasha Harvey had been coming to the Vatican library for weeks, unable—after the kidnapping of Aldo Moro—to read anything but her newspapers.¹ One day, overcoming inertia, she put away her newspapers to meander in the reading room, pulling various items off the shelf to read. She tells us, on loose typescript pages stored in her research folders, of the complex, painful, emotional political research she was doing in Rome in the late 1970s. Research on stories—stories of Communist Party leaders; the story of her longings for one trade unionist who rarely telephoned; and her story of wanting...

  10. SECTION THREE Gender, Erudition, and the Italian Nation
    (pp. 140-186)

    In 1819, at the age of forty, the Swiss Gian Pietro Vieusseux made Florence his adoptive city.¹ A successful businessman who traded in grains, wines, and oils, Vieusseux created in Florence a reading room of newspapers, journals, and books that came to be known as il Gabinetto Scientifico-Letterario or il Gabinetto Vieusseux.² By all reports, the Gabinetto was a cosmopolitan gathering place for male erudites and a space for studying the past with the purpose of forming “a moral national community” (“una comunità morale nazionale”).³ It was perhaps crucial to this purpose of nation formation that Vieusseux himself was from...

  11. Afterword
    (pp. 187-190)

    As we have seen, Lorenzino’s assassination of Alessandro de’ Medici in 1537 was not an isolated episode of political violence; rather, it fit into a series or a humanistic tradition of tyrannicides that extended from the first tyrant-slayers, Harmodius and Aristogiton, to republican thinkers of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries and beyond. This series or tradition was and is still characterized by a rhetoric of comparison and repetition. How does Lorenzino compare to Brutus? How does Alessandro compare to Phalaris or Holofernes? Is there a violated, Lucretia-like noblewoman on the scene? The tyrant-slayers and their supporters have always been...

  12. Appendix
    (pp. 191-200)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 201-260)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 261-276)
  15. Index
    (pp. 277-282)