Working Women of Early Modern Venice
In this groundbreaking book, Monica Chojnacka argues that the women of early modern Venice occupied a more socially powerful space than traditionally believed. Rather than focusing exclusively on the women of noble or wealthy merchant families, Chojnacka explores the lives of women—unmarried, married, or widowed—who worked for a living and helped keep the city running through their labor, services, and products.
Among Chojnacka's surprising findings is the degree to which these working women exercised control over their own lives. Many headed households and even owned their own homes; when necessary, they also took in and supported other women of their families. Some were self-employed, while others had jobs outside the home. They often moved freely about the city to conduct business, and they took legal action in the courts on their own behalf. On a daily basis, Venetian women worked, traveled, and contested obstacles in ways that made the city their own.
About the Author
Monica Chojnacka is an assistant professor of history at the University of Georgia.
"A skillfully crafted, sparkling testament to these women [of Early Modern Venice]—and to their courage, determination, and dignity."
"Chojnacka's book is a powerful reminder that even after four decades of interest in reclaiming women's history, many fundamental aspects of women's lives are still in the initial stages of exploration... Working Women of Early Modern Venice provides researchers and students alike with a persuasive argument for the importance of a more nuanced view of women's activities in early modern Europe."
"Making imaginative use of Venice's extraordinary archival resources, Chojnacka has written a solid, engaging, and illuminating monograph."
"Many of us have been waiting for such a book. Monica Chojnacka's monograph Working Women of Early Modern Venice is a nuanced, multifaceted, and imaginative study... It is based on a wide array of archival sources, beautifully illustrated, and written in an engaging refreshing manner."
"[Monica Chojnacka] leaves her reader with a lively picture of the human relations at work in her subjects' lives... a sound and engaging descriptive study."
"This is an important, pioneering study."
"Until recently, in-depth studies of early modern Venetian women were few and far between... The past two years have seen a radical change in this literary profile, for in this short period a new body of work has appeared. Monica Chojnacka's Working Women of Early Modern Venice was one of the first of these new publications, and it remains the most courageous."
"An engaging, readable work showing the strength of thorough archival research."
"Chojnacka succeeds in drawing for Venice a more nuanced portrait of popolane women's lives than we have yet had for any other Italian city."
"This small jewel of a book is an important addition to the literature about women in history and the history of Renaissance and post-Tridentine Italy."
"Working Women of Early Modern Venice is an excellent read, which offers a multifaceted picture of Venetian women in the late sixteenth and the early seventeenth centuries."
"Chojnacka's richly detailed book... recreates the particular sensual delight that is the Venetian urban experience, from the perspective of being part of 'a community of women' down in the sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century streets."
"The book's great strength undoubtedly lies in the data gathered here about the large numbers of women who did not belong to the small elite groups... It modestly but assertively asks us to review our opinions about gender and the Italian city, and about working women in early modern Europe."
"Chojnacka has written a valuable study of women in early modern Venice, fresh with the kinds of unique data that can only come from the archives. She has managed to uncover significant patterns in the lives especially of popolane, women 'of the people,' beneath the stratum of the elite. This task Chojnacka has accomplished, offering as the product of her diligent archival research both intelligent analysis and insightful conclusions."
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