Isotta Nogarola's Defense of Eve: Philology and the Cultural Politics of Latin
Friday, September 23, 2022
Dr. Thomas Hendrickson, Instructor of Latin and English, Stanford Online High School on Writing Latin
Isotta Nogarola’s 1451 Defense of Eve laid the foundation for an argument that women were not inherently inferior to men. For over a thousand years, writers from Tertullian to Boccaccio had blamed Eve for the existence of sin and had used Eve as a justification for the subordination of women. In this lecture, I’ll outline some discoveries that I’ve made about this work in the course of preparing a new critical edition. Based on new manuscript discoveries, I argue that Nogarola made at least two different versions of the work; I restore an epistolary preface that had been lost; and I suggest that we have been mistaken about the work’s very genre. Finally, I explore how philological work on a Neo-Latin text like this one can change how we think about Latin in ancient Rome and about the cultural politics of Latin more broadly, including how these cultural politics affect the way we teach and study it now.