Sharon Strocchia

Solmsen Fellow (2010-2011)

History, Emory University

Portrait image of Sharon Strocchia

Nuns and the Healing Arts in Late Renaissance Italy

Among the many agents of health in Renaissance Italy were religious women who worked as apothecaries, nurses, hospital administrators, and spiritual healers serving a wide public. But Renaissance nuns were not only healers who played a vital role in the Italian urban healthcare system: they were also articulate, introspective sufferers who narrated their experiences of illness and disability with growing frequency. This book-length study situates both nuns’ medical agency and their subjective experiences as sufferers in relation to signature developments of the early modern period, such as the expansion of female monasticism, new state welfare initiatives, Catholic reform, and medical professionalization. Tapping unexplored archival materials, my project both historicizes suffering as a social construction and revises current understandings of how healthcare in Renaissance Italy was organized, practiced, and gendered.

Sharon Strocchia is Professor of History at Emory University. Her research focuses on women and religion in Renaissance Italy; her most recent work integrates these themes with the social history of medicine. She is the author of Death and Ritual in Renaissance Florence (1992) and Nuns and Nunneries in Renaissance Florence (2009), as well as numerous articles on female religiosity in the Italian Renaissance, several of which have been awarded prizes. Strocchia (B.A. Stanford University; M.A., Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley) has received grants from the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies (Villa I Tatti, Florence), National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, American Council of Learned Societies, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Renaissance Society of America, American Philosophical Society, the Newberry Library, and the Folger Library.