Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2013

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 08/31/2020

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Berman, Constance H.

First Committee Member

Berman, Constance H.

Second Committee Member

Tachau, Katherine

Third Committee Member

Kamerick, Kathleen

Fourth Committee Member

Wilcox, Jonathan

Fifth Committee Member

Moore, Michael


This dissertation examines the cultural, intellectual and artistic contributions religious women made in the production of secular and religious books in fifteenth and sixteenth-century Italy. It presents the first comparative study of nuns' book production across Italy and introduces new manuscripts to the canon of nuns' bookwork. Though the scholarship of the last fifty years has increased our understanding of the institutional and individual lives of nuns, little research has been done on their production and exchange of texts. Nun-scribes and manuscript painters produced liturgical, devotional and administrative books for use in-house, as well as for secular and religious communities and individuals outside the walls of the convents. Evidence of their bookwork repositions them as active participants in a rich spiritual, intellectual and artistic life and broadens their sphere of activity and influence to include a wide community of secular and religious patrons, artistic collaborators, scholars, family members, and book-buying clientele.

Through a close examination of the material evidence in their manuscripts, this study illustrates how nuns used the production and exchange of texts to further their individual and institutional goals. This dissertation makes an important contribution to the current understanding nuns' spiritual, artistic and intellectual life and practice and significantly reshapes the current understanding of women's education and learning in Renaissance and early modern Italy (1400-1650).


Cultural History, Early Modern History, History of the Book, History of Women Religious, Medieval History, Renaissance History


xxx, 426 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 401-426).


Copyright © 2013 Melissa N. Moreton

Available for download on Monday, August 31, 2020

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