The University of Arizona

Lecture - 'La Compiuta Donzella: The First Woman in Italian Literature'

This event is part of the series "Fearless Females: Audacious and Feisty Women of the Middle Ages and Renaissance" and will be presented by UA Italian Professor Fabian Alfie. It is free and open to the public.

Active between 1260-1270, the woman known only as La Compiuta Donzella ("the fulfilled damsel") attracted the attention of several male writers. Two of them were astonished that such wisdom could be found in a female. The third, the important poet Guittone d' Arezzo (1235-1294), praised her insights but reminded her to follow virtue. And yet, almost nothing is known about her, not even her name. She left a corpus of three sonnets in which she demonstrates her knowledge of literary forms. At the same time, though, she introduces seemingly personal material into her verse, decrying her father’s intentions to marry her to someone she didn't love. In this talk, Alfie will discuss her status as a woman in 13th-century Florence, a topic that her works all but invite us to examine.

Alfie is the head of the UA Department of French and Italian. He received a Ph.D. in Italian from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1995 with a specialization in the Middle Ages. He has published extensively on medieval Italian literature and has given numerous scholarly and public talks on Dante. He is currently on the board of the Humanities Seminars Program. In 2008, he received a Distinguished Teaching Award from the College of Humanities, and in 2013, he was awarded the Superior Teaching Award from the Humanities Seminars Program.

This event is co-sponsored by Mostly Books, Independent Bookstore, Women and Gender Studies in the School of Social Transformation, and Project Humanities at Arizona State University.

April 29, 2014   7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Audience Size: 
Medium (51-100)


Tucson Woman's Club, 6245 E. Bellevue St.
Tucson, AZ
United States

Contact Info & Links

Department of French and Italian, UA and ACMRS (Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies)
Contact Person: 
Kendra TerBeek
Contact's Phone: 
Contact's Email: 
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