Ars dictaminis and Ars technica: Catherine of Siena's Letter Network

FEB 21, 2019 | 6:00 PM TO 7:30 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




February 21, 2019: 6:00 PM-7:30 PM




Center for the Study of Women and Society


In this talk, Lisa Tagliaferri works to affirm Catherine of Siena as not only a literary writer but also a vernacular innovator who drove access to knowledge productionacross communities. A public figure who developed successful networks through participation in every day life through speech and text, Catherine was among the key figures who worked to develop and codify the emerging Italian language. Poets like Dante and Petrarch, famous for mixing the romantic and spiritual registers in their writing, relied on the vocabulary that was long established by mystic writers and community builders. Catherine, too, develops a lyrical language to describe her mystic spirituality both through unique metaphors and traditional Italian imagery alongside other urban mystics like Francis of Assisi. Through both the art of letter writing, and her embrace of technology and innovation, Catherine of Siena served others through elevating the language they spoke and empowering them to be interlocutors.

Co-sponsored with the Society for the Study of Women in the Renaissance (SSWR) and the CUNY Academy for Humanities and Sciences.

Lisa Tagliaferri is a Postdoctoral Associate at MIT in the Digital Humanities program where she develops software for humanities researchers. An interdisciplinary scholar, she holds a PhD in Comparative Literature and Renaissance Studies from The Graduate Center and an MSc in Computer Science from the University of London.