Veronica Franco and first wave feminism: Reaching from the past, building towards the future
Cohenour, Gretchen M
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Veronica Franco (1546-1591) was one of the most distinguished courtesans, citizen, and writer of the early modern period. An examination of Franco's works reveals a pointed attempt to defend women's place and advancement in society, thereby establishing an early and vital voice of experience about women from the Italian Renaissance. This thesis is a recovery project that attempts to show how Franco's profession as a cortigiana onesta, as well as her writings, challenged traditional patriarchal gender constructs. Franco's writings also reflect protofeminist concepts of equality and liberation of women, concepts more familiarly brought to light by Anglo-American first-wave feminists, like Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Hays, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This examination will advance feminist scholars' understanding of the history, meaning, and consequences of early modern feminism. The study will also contribute to a greater understanding of a liberal feminism that extends beyond Anglo-American boundaries that differs from and complements the ways current popular culture understands what Western civilization has coined "feminist."