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A SIENESE ACADEMIC WOMAN OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY: ARETAFILA SAVINI DE’ ROSSI

E. Spinosa

Abstract

This research aims to show the correlation between Tuscan literary and scientific academies and the discourse on women’s education at the dawn of the eighteenth century, considering Aretafila Savini de’ Rossi, Sienese poetess and painter, famous for her Apologia in favore degli Studj delle donne, written in 1723. For the first time the cir- cumstances that prompted to the publication in 1729 of her modern work in favor of women’s studies are clarified. The link was doctor Antonio Vallisneri, naturalist philosopher, who wrote to Aretafila in 1726, asking a copy of her work, known to him thanks to the medi- ation of his son Antonio junior. The Savini was in contact with emi- nent scientific-cultural circles of that time. Among these were: Anton Maria Salvini, Greek Literature professor at the Florentine Studio, Crescenzio Vaselli, a Sienese member of the Fisiocritici Academy and Princess Violante of Bavaria’s personal doctor, Anton Francesco Marmi, Florentine colleague of the famous librarian Magliabechi, Pier Jacopo Martello, well-known Bolognese play- wright, and Antonio Vallisneri, chair of Medicine at the Univer- sity of Padua and member of the Fisiocritici Academy. These cultural contacts were possible thanks to academies, the only cul- tural institutions that granted women’s participation in the age of Enlightenment. The Arcadia Academy, of which Aretafila be- came a member in 1712 under the name of Larinda Alagonia, as well as the peculiar Sienese combination between the Arcadians and the Fisiocritici (1699-1733), allowed her to contact and dia- logue with the custodians of the scientific culture from which ladies were traditionally excluded.

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Submitted: 2012-05-16 15:17:44
Published: 2012-05-16 16:17:33
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