Queens and Amazons in Renaissance Art and History

This presentation offers 16th- and 17th-century literature and music—together with visual images of paintings, engravings, and sculptures —that portray women forcefully as queens and Amazons. The women in these roles display a confident assumption of equivalence with men, strong agency, and loyal friendship and, at times, passionate love for other noble women. The images of heroic and ruling women we’ve gathered appear in cultural sites —the aristocracy, monarchies, the Catholic Church, convents, and other places. Such material reveals an early modern feminism in the Renaissance and Baroque context that has been eclipsed by a modern movement born of the Enlightenment. Together, the elements contribute to an early, politically nuanced subjectivity for women that we would do well to remember. The imaginary realm of art and literature has its counterpart in the history of European court culture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries with regard to the public and political power of a startling number of “reallife” queens and women regents in this era of the emerging nation-state; the multimedia entertainments in which women participated, performing in the courts of ruling queens; and the emergence of women writers and artists in connection with such court cultures. Readings and portraits will bring these voices and faces to life. We will give examples from Italy, France, the Netherlands, and Portugal, with special emphasis on Britain and the colonial United States, as well as Spain and New Spain (colonial Mexico).

Presenter Profiles: Amanda Powell, Senior Instructor, Romance Languages; and Dianne Dugaw, Professor, English

powellAmanda Powell is a senior instructor in the University of Oregon’s Department of Romance Languages, where she teaches courses in literary translation, Spanish and Latin American literature (with an emphasis on women poets), and advanced writing in Spanish, among many others. In her own research, Amanda explores such topics as 16th- and 17th-century Spanish and Latin American women writers, convent writings and secular poetry, as well as literary translation. She is coeditor with Electa Arenal of the strong defense of women’s right to education, The Answer/La Respuesta, by 17th-century Mexican nun, intellectual, and poet Juana Inés de la Cruz (New York: Feminist Press, 1994); and coauthor with Kathleen A. Myers of A Wild Country Out in the Garden: The Spiritual Journals of a Colonial Mexican Nun by a very different, visionary and mystical writer of the same period (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999). Amanda’s translations include Untold Sisters: Hispanic Nuns in Their Own Works, edited by Electa Arenal and Stacey Schlau (University of New Mexico Press, 1989), and the 16th-century Spanish defense of women’s modes of prayer and learning by María de San José Salazar, Book for the Hour of Recreation, edited and introduction by Alison Weber (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002). Her articles include (with Dianne Dugaw) “A Feminist Road Not Taken: Baroque Sapphic Poetry.” Amanda is also a poet, published in numerous anthologies and literary journals.

dugawDianne Dugaw was raised on a small ranch in the rural Pacific Northwest and began her career as a folksinger. In the 1970s, she traveled to the Ozark Mountain region of Arkansas and Oklahoma to collect traditional songs, hymns, and tunes. After earning a B.A. in English at the University of Portland, Dianne went on to receive a master’s degree in English from the University of Colorado. She then studied literature, music, drama, and folklore at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and received her Ph.D. in English. For the past 15 years, she has taught in the department of English and the Folklore Program at the University of Oregon. Dianne has published three books on topics in literary history and folklore and, in 2002, she recorded a CD entitled Dangerous Examples—Fighting and Sailing Women in Song. On the CD, she sings an array of Anglo-American ballads about women soldiers and sailors reaching from Shakespeare’s time to our own era. She has written numerous articles on literature, folklore, popular culture, and women’s studies, which have appeared in national and international journals. She continues to perform with fiddler Linda Danielson, country-western singer Eric Spado, the stringband, “Oldtime News” and other Lane Country musicians. Dianne has lived in Eugene with her partner since 1991.