Even the most comprehensive Renaissance histories have neglected the vibrant groups of women writers that emerged in cities across Italy during the mid-1500s—and the thriving network of printers, publishers, and agents that specialized in producing and selling their books. In Publishing Women, Diana Robin finally brings to life this story of women’s cultural and intellectual leadership in early modern Italy, illuminating the factors behind—and the significance of—their sudden dominance.
Focusing on the collective publication process, Robin portrays communities in Naples, Venice, Rome, Siena, and Florence, where women engaged in activities that ranged from establishing literary salons to promoting religious reform. Her innovative cultural history considers the significant roles these women played in tandem with men, rather than separated from them. In doing so, it collapses the borders between women’s history, Renaissance and Reformation studies, and book history to evoke a historical moment that catapulted women’s writings and women-sponsored books into the public sphere for the first time anywhere in Europe.