About Meredith Ray
I am Professor of Italian at the University of Delaware, where I also teach courses in Women and Gender Studies and European Studies. I have been fascinated by the contributions of women to Renaissance literature and culture for as long as I can remember, and my research focuses on exploring the myriad aspects of early modern women’s experience.
My first book, Writing Gender in Women’s Letter Collections of the Italian Renaissance, explored the performative aspects of published epistolary collections – a genre that was all the rage in the early modern period. My work on women’s letters sparked my interest in another popular early modern pursuit, mentioned in some of the letters I examined: alchemy. Embarking on a new direction in my research, I began thinking about the ways in which women participated in scientific culture – as patrons and practitioners, authors and readers. This research resulted in my book, Daughters of Alchemy: Women and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy. My latest book, Margherita Sarrocchi's Letters to Galileo: Astronomy, Astrology, and Poetics in Seventeenth-Century Italy explores the interplay between scientific and literary circles and between men and women in the age of the Scientific Revolution.
I have also published on convent culture in seventeenth-century Venice and, especially, the life and work of Venetian nun Arcangela Tarabotti. Consigned to perpetual enclosure in the convent of Sant’Anna – a practice known as “forced monachization,” common throughout early modern Italy – Tarabotti published a number of radical works that denounced the oppression of women and exposed the religious, political, economic and social factors that favored it.
Meredith K. Ray
Dept. of Foreign Languages and Literatures
University of Delaware