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Wings for Our Courage

Gender, Erudition, and Republican Thought

Stephanie H. Jed

Publication Year: 2011

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 Courage offers 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.

Published by: University of California Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-x


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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xii-xvi

This book has taken way too long to complete, but at a certain point it took on a life of its own, and I couldn’t find a way to hurry the pace. Finally, at project’s end, I have the opportunity to thank and appreciate my teacher Paolo Valesio. From the first, he encouraged me to take intellectual risks. ...

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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, ...

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Section One: Slaying the Tyrant, 1536–2011

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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. ...

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Social Intersection: 1565–1995, between Mexico City, the Mountains of Chiapas, Bologna, Friuli, and Los Angeles

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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) ...

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Section Two: Wings for My Courage

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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 ...

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Social Intersection: 1536–2011, between San Diego, Milan, Rome, Venice, Florence, and Paris

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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. ...

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Section Three: Gender, Erudition, and the Italian Nation

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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 ...

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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. ...


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pp. 191-200


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pp. 201-260


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pp. 261-276


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pp. 277-282

E-ISBN-13: 9780520950054
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520267695

Page Count: 298
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 733040262
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Wings for Our Courage

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Italian literature -- 16th century -- History and criticism.
  • Politics and literature -- Italy -- History -- 16th century.
  • Republicanism in literature.
  • Republicanism -- Italy -- Florence -- History -- 16th century.
  • Republicanism -- History.
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