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Avoiding the male-authored model of competing orations, French and Italian women of the Renaissance framed their dialogues as informal conversations, as letters with friends that in turn became epistles to a wider audience, and even sometimes as dramas. No other study to date has provided thorough, comparative view of these works across French, Italian, and Latin. Smarr's comprehensive treatment relates these writings to classical, medieval, and Renaissance forms of dialogue, and to other genres including drama, lyric exchange, and humanist invective—as well as to the real conversations in women's lives—in order to show how women adapted existing models to their own needs and purposes.
"Janet Smarr's engaging study of dialogues written by French and Italian women from the mid-fifteenth to the late sixteenth centuries has much to offer, both to readers with a special interest in women's writing and, more generally, to scholars of early modern literature and culture...Smarr has written a book which is required, and thoroughly enjoyable, reading."
—Patricia Phillippy, Texas A&M University, Renaissance Quarterly