Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia (1646-1684) - The First Woman in the World to Earn a University Degree
Place Published: Philadelphia
Publisher: Saint Joseph's University Press
Date Published: 2007
Book Id: 13
260 pages + foreword, introduction, bibliography, and index | 9.25 x 6.25 inches | 43 b/w images
Even in 17th-century Italy, news spread quickly. On June 25, 1678, an enormous crowd that included nobles, knights, city officials, ladies, scholarly men, the diocesan vicar general, and the entire College of Philosophers and Physicians gathered at the University of Padua to witness Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia stand for her oral doctoral examination-the first time in history that a woman had been accorded this privilege! So great was the crowd that the examination had to be moved from the University's College to the cathedral.
The bishop's refusal to allow Elena to stand for a degree in theology no doubt increased interest in the grudgingly approved examination in philosophy. Elena's eloquent discourse on two Aristotelian theses so impressed the examining committee that, despite her request for a secret ballot, they voted their approval viva voce to award the Teacher and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. She was the first woman so honored by a university.
Maschietto's definitive biography of Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia was originally published in Italian on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of her landmark degree (Padua: Editrice Antenore, 1978). Now more than 25 years later, this meticulously researched biography is available for the first time in English translation.
After carefully tracing the lineage of Elena's family, Maschietto tells the fascinating story of her rearing and education, as well as of the high drama of her standing for examination for a doctoral degree. Maschietto also offers a full assessment of Elena's writings, spirituality, and posterity. This book is profusely illustrated with reproductions of paintings and engravings of many of the principal figures who populate Elena's life-story.
Francesco Ludovico Maschietto, O.S.B., Jan Vairo, ed., William Crochetiere, ed., Catherine Marshall, ed.
"The English translation of the Benedictine scholar Francesco Ludovico Mashietto's biography of Piscopia is a welcome addition to the literature on women and learning in Renaissance Italy. Originally published in 1978 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Piscopia's degree, it is the first fully archival study of her life and work. The result is a richer and more accurate portrait of Piscopia than any study of her prior to 1978. […] Maschietto's book has been generally well-translated in this edition. The inclusion of translations and originals of key documents in the appendices is also welcome. […] The three scholars who jointly produced the English edition of this book are to be commended for making Maschietto's foundational study of Piscopia available in English."
Paula Findlen, Renaissance Quarterly
"Thirty years after the tercentenary year, when Francesco Ludovico Maschietto (1909-2000) published his definitive biography of the Venetian paragon, it is available in an English translation. Maschietto's work is distinguished by its thorough foundation in archival documents. Where previous biographers had speculated, Maschietto determined the exact circumstances of birth, baptism, intellectual training, university career, medical care, death, and burial. […] Although other works on Cornaro have appeared since the original publication of the Maschietto volume, Maschietto is fundamental to all. The translation is competent […] and the translators have obligingly included in the appendix, in documents 4 and 5, full translations of the wills of Cornaro's father and sister […] thus providing exemplars of this genre most useful for pedagogical purposes."
Margaret L. King, Catholic Historical Review