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C. Donato,  The Life and Legend of Catterina Vizzani: Sexual identity, science and sensationalism in Eighteenth-Century Italy and England

C. Donato, The Life and Legend of Catterina Vizzani: Sexual identity, science and sensationalism in Eighteenth-Century Italy and England

Publié le par Université de Lausanne (Source : Emma Burridge)

The Life and Legend of Catterina Vizzani:

Sexual identity, science and sensationalism in Eighteenth-Century Italy and England

By Clorinda Donato

Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment 2020:10

ISBN: 9781789622218, 405 pages, £65.00


A transcultural examination of gender fluidity and transgendered lifestyles informs the narration and analysis of Catterina Vizzani’s story featured in this volume. Early modern anatomist Giovanni Bianchi’s 1744 medical novella about Vizzani, published here in Italian with a modern English translation, is juxtaposed with John Cleland’s sensationalized 1751 translation. A scintillating reflection on transcultural sexualities and trans historicities that significantly revises our view of enlightenment sexualities.

  • The science of sex in eighteenth-century Italy and England and the ongoing transhistorical debate over gender identity, fluidity and performativity are the stuff of this timely volume. 
  • The question of transgender performativity and queer lifestyles in Giovanni Bianchi’s story of Catterina Vizzani and John Cleland’s embellished translation ignites new debates over sexual identity and its politics in early modern Italy and England. 

"Closely mirroring our own twenty-first century narrative trajectory and debate about gender and sexuality are parallel publications appearing in eighteenth-century Europe, about the transgendered Catterina Vizzani/Giovanni Bordoni, whose life story was interwoven into a medical novella penned by the anatomist from Rimini, Italy, Giovanni Bianchi (1693-1775). His 1744 novella […] constitutes the first recounting of early modern transgender identity in Italy, and even Europe, with the intent of memorializing transgendered life and normalizing it for readers."

(Read the author’s accompanying blog post)


Table of Contents:
List of figures
Introduction: Giovanni Bianchi, John Cleland and the Breve storia: an overview of Italian and English eighteenth-century sexualities
Chapter 1: Situating Giovanni Bianchi: the biography of an anatomist man of letters
Chapter 2: An apology for same-sex love: Bianchi’s discourse to the Academy of the Defective
Chapter 3: The literature of science and sexuality in eighteenth-century Italy and its fourteenth- to seventeenth-century European precedents
Chapter 4: Technologies of gender identity in eighteenth- century Italy and England: the story of Catterina Vizzani’s autopsy
Chapter 5: Novelistic prose in eighteenth-century Italy: Cleland in Italy, Bianchi in England and the cultivation of Boccaccio among men of science and letters
Chapter 6: The transgendered familial and working spaces of Catterina Vizzani/Giovanni Bordoni and their narrators
Chapter 7: Translating transgender: Giovanni Bianchi and John Cleland writing queer desire in the eighteenth century
Chapter 8: Cleland’s motivation: Catterina Vizzani as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
Chapter 9: The entangled lives and writings of John Cleland and Giovanni Bianchi: biographical synergies and a shared sexual vision
Appendix: the texts


Clorinda Donato is Professor of French and Italian at California State University, Long Beach, where she holds the George L. Graziadio Chair for Italian Studies and directs the Clorinda Donato Center for Global Romance Languages and Translation Studies. She is an eighteenth-century scholar who researches knowledge transfer through translation and genre adaptation in encyclopedic compilations. She also works on gender in medical and literary accounts. 

The Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment series, previously known as SVEC (Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century), has published over 500 peer-reviewed scholarly volumes since 1955 as part of the Voltaire Foundation at the University of Oxford. International in focus, Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment volumes cover wide-ranging aspects of the eighteenth century and the Enlightenment, from gender studies to political theory, and from economics to visual arts and music, and are published in English or French.