2022 Awards

SSEMWG Publication Awards 2022


Book Award


Amanda C. Pipkin, Dissenting Daughters: Reformed Women in the Dutch Republic, 1572-1725 (OUP, 2022).


Amanda Pipkin’s book examines how religion and religious activity intersected with the category of womanhood by focusing on case studies of women active in shaping the Dutch Reformed Church. Working against the belief that family structures necessarily inhibit female textual production, Pipkin places women’s devotional writing within the context of their lived religious practices and personal networks to demonstrate how these practices and networks encouraged their development as writers and thinkers. Dissenting Daughters offers a detailed, precise account of both these women’s religious writings and their family networks to argue that it was through domestic worship and writing that these women gained the authority to minister to family, friends, and a broader audience both in the Dutch Republic and abroad. This exceptionally well-researched and carefully written book demonstrates how some early modern women creatively drew upon the power and authority accorded to them as wives, mothers, and sisters to advance their own beliefs.


Essay or Article Award


Tamar Herzig, “Slavery and Interethnic Sexual Violence: A Multiple Perpetrator Rape in Seventeenth-Century Livorno,” American Historical Review 127:1 (2022): 194–222.


Tamar Herzig’s essay on a 1610 mass rape of enslaved Jewish women expands and complicates histories of enslavement, ethnicity, and sexual violence in a global frame. Herzig reveals “the importance of writing Jewish slave women back into not only the history of slavery but also the narratives of Jewish history and Italian history.” Whereas many historians of Mediterranean slavery have focused on the male experience of bondage and consequently universalized it, Herzig recenters the experience of enslaved women subject to sexual violence which could result in life-threatening pregnancy and childbirth. Moreover, although rapes organized by state or military officials were not documented and so have been historically invisible, the 1610 event reveals a history of the deployment of multiple-perpetrator interethnic sexual violence as a weapon of war. Herzig’s essay is a powerful testament to the need to look beyond narratives of Italian religious tolerance and male-dominated records in order to recognize how sexual violence was instrumentalized in Mediterranean slavery and politics.

Honorable Mention: Annalisa Nicholson, “Like Mother, like Daughter: Hortense Mancini, Duchesse de Mazarin, and Marie-Charlotte de La Porte-Mazarin, Marquise de Richelieu,” Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal 16 (2021).

In this meticulously researched essay, Anna Lisa Nicholson examines the place of Hortense Mancini, Duchesse de Mazarin, in the cultural history of suicide. Nicholson’s focus has important methodological implications for the study of early modern women. Attending to the circumstances surrounding Mancini’s suicide following a scandalous love triangle involving herself, her daughter, and the Earl of Albemarle, Nicholson demonstrates the value of speculative history. Particularly in the case of women writers, for whom documents, publications, and other records may be absent, speculation may allow the scholar to piece together dispersed and fragmented remainders of a life. In Mancini’s case, the limited information available is itself indicative of friends’ commitment to protecting her privacy, and thereby allowing us to understand her suicide not only as a tragedy, but also as a form of liberation from the public scrutiny under which she had lived a precarious, scandal-filled life.


Josephine Roberts Award for a Scholarly Edition

Anne Vaughan Lock, Selected Poetry, Prose, and Translations, with Contextual Materials. Edited by Susan M. Felch, The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series, 76 (New York and Toronto: Iter Press, 2021).

This important volume of Anne Vaughan Lock’s poetry, prose, and translations positions her as a significant female reformer in sixteenth-century religious and socio-political contexts. The works have been carefully chosen, curated to clarify her role as “reformer, exile, poet, translator, correspondent, spiritual counselor, and political advocate” (1). Lock’s works are couched alongside meticulous contextual materials, including illustrations, headnotes, extensive footnotes, a glossary of religious terms, wide-ranging bibliography, and scripture index that make this edition accessible to a wide-ranging audience interested in early modern women, gender, and culture, as well as indispensable to scholars interested in Lock specifically.

Scholarly Edition in Translation Award

Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, ed. and trans., Pierre de Vaux and Sister Perrine de Baume, Two Lives of Saint Colette, with a Selection of Letters by, to, and about Colette. The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series, 94 (New York and Toronto: Iter Press, 2022).

This magnificently translated edition introduces to modern readers the significant influence of Saint Colette on fifteenth-century French religious communities as a reformer of the Franciscan Order and founder of seventeen convents. The introduction masterfully contextualizes Saint Colette’s life and work in fifteenth-century religious and political ideology, including divisive conflicts and reform efforts, and charts her devotional life and commitments that influenced her as an individual and a shaper of communal life. The two biographies, one written by “Pierre de Vaux, a Franciscan friar, her confidant and confessor,” and the other by a woman, “Perrine de Baume, a fellow nun and niece of Colette’s mentor,” are interwoven with beautiful illustrations and extensive footnotes (1). This translated edition is a significant contribution to the study of medieval women and their influence on religion, culture, and community.


Collaborative Project Award

Paula McQuade and Jaime Goodrich, eds, Special issue of Criticism, “Beyond Canonicity: the Future(s) of Early Modern Women Writers,” vol. 63 (2021).

The spring 2021 issue of criticism takes as its focus “The Future(s) of Early Modern Women Writer” and addresses the current cultural and political moment in the academy. This self-aware and self-critical lens includes the pressing need for more attention to the participation of early modern women writers in the racial, colonial, and imperial hierarchies of their time, as articulated in the contributions by Joyce MacDonald, Kimberly Anne Coles, Sujata Iyengar, Micheline White, and Sarah C. E. Ross. The volume is also a call to action, and the attention to both pedagogy and how scholars are (and still are not) encouraged to research early modern women writers provides potential avenues for the future of the field.

Co-Honorable Mention: James Fitzmaurice, Naomi Miller, and Sara Jayne Steen, eds. Authorizing Early Modern European Women, From Biography to Bio-fiction (Amsterdam University Press, 2021).

Co-Honorable Mention: Lisa Walters and Brandie Siegfried, eds. Margaret Cavendish: An Interdisciplinary Perspective(Cambridge University Press, 2022).

Graduate Student Conference Presentation Award

Hayley O’Kell, “Perilous Beauty Regimes”, SCSC 2021

This graduate student paper (SCSC 2021) examines the early modern Spanish beauty practice of the comer barro, or clay eating, which women would undertake in order to create a pale cast to the skin. O’Kell argues that contemporary men condescendingly writing about the behavior “completely misunderstood” it, and that this process was used by women to form a female “beauty community.” A fascinating and interdisciplinary study of subversive beauty practices touching on important themes of beauty, whiteness, and gender in early modern Spain.

Honorable Mention: Claudia Antonini, “Barbara Salutati’s Poetic Activity”, SCSC 2021

Antonini presents a new reading of the virtuosa and poet Barbara Salutati, mostly known as the love object and muse of Machiavelli, by carefully reading the extant material on her literary and social accomplishments. This paper not only provides an insightful reading of one woman writer and the category of the courtesan-writer more broadly, but also of Machiavelli, whose creative collaboration with this figure has generally been underplayed in studies of his work.

Digital Scholarship Award

Rosalind Smith, “Early Modern Women and the Poetry of Complaint, 1540–1660”

This digital humanities project traces “vocabularies of complaint” across the myriad examples of female-voiced complaint in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Moving beyond the previously narrow definition of male-authored, Heroides-like amorous verse of the 1590s to include over a century of examples, by both men and women. The project visualizes the project’s data under such category headings, from the broad “amatory” and “religious” to more idiosyncratic features, like “psychic suffering,” “God’s wrath,” and “desire for death.” Imminently usable and truly effective at proving that early moderns found complaint to be a versatile and multifaceted poetic mode.

Award for Best Article in EMW, Volume 16

Jennifer A. Cavalli, “Crisis Management: Women’s Letters of Assistance and Commiseration in Sixteenth-Century Northern Italy”

This article examines the renowned Isabella d’Este and her epistolary exchanges with her network of powerful women, which she utilized in times of political crisis. Combining history, rhetorical analysis, and the history of emotions, Cavalli demonstrates how these women exercises political agency–how “the emotional work did political work.”

Honorable Mention: Anna-Lisa Halling, “Soror Maria do Céu’s Aves Illustradas: A Conduct Manual Legitimizing Female Authority for Early Modern Nuns through Storytelling”

It is well known that the conduct manual was a popular Renaissance genre. While most manuals directed at women were written by men and focused on domestic duties, this paper looks at a text composed for women religious by one of their own, the Spanish nun Soror Maria do Céu. Halling’s analysis of the Aves Illustradas, which takes a narrative rather than prescriptive approach, provides insight into the self-authorizing power of such writing for one community of cloistered women.