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History & Politics, Literature

“A More Noble Desire Undoes My Heart”

at Vol de Nuit (148 West 4th St.)

Sunday, April 30, 2023
11:30 am


Please note:
This event takes place at
Vol de Nuit (148 West 4th Street)
Reservation is required

Sunday brunch conversation
“A More Noble Desire Undoes My Heart”
Catholic and Jewish Women Writers in Post-Tridentine Italy
Sarra Copio Sullam, Arcangela Tarabotti, Emilia Fiorentina, and
Those Whose Letters Were Surrendered to Oblivion

Serena Di Nepi (University of Rome La Sapienza)
Lynn Westwater (George Washington University)
Ida Caiazza (Marie Curie Global Fellow, New York University)

Co-presented by:
Centro Primo Levi New York
Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò at NYU
University of Rome La Sapienza

Prompted by the Protestant Reformation and held between 1545 and 1563, the  Council of Trent was a cultural and a political watershed in the Catholic world. The emphasis on Catholic orthodoxy in all fields of knowledge significantly affected society,  including the lives of Jews living under Papal rule and in the vicinity. While devising capillary means to control the morality of Catholics, the Church also undertook a more systematic campaign of conversion, segregation and discrimination against religious minorities. The Tridentine shift particularly impacted women, injecting a new model of spiritual and moral rigueur in the traditional patriarchal norm that determined their lives. 

In spite of these challenges, or perhaps elicited by them, the contribution of women to the cultural and public life of the time, did not come to halt and in fact continued to flourish. On the footstep of predecessors like Vittoria Colonna and Isabella d’Este, women raised their voices against injustices and many of them sought ways to express themselves and assert their place in the society of letters and beyond.

In this conversation, Serena Di Nepi (University of Rome La Sapienza), Lynn Lara Westwater (George Washington University), and Ida Caiazza (Marie Curie Global Fellow, New York University) will discuss the work and lives of women writers from different cities including  Venice, Florence,  and Rome. They will reflect on how these women (and their often male, interlocutors) negotiated independency, individual dignity and constraints in their pursuit of knowledge, artistic practice, spirituality, love, and communal identification.  

About Centro Primo Levi’s Nightflight
With its ever-changing form and charm, the 19th century carriage house at 148 West 4th Street has always been a place of hospitality, where people met to talk and eat. The house shares the courtyard with the historic bar named after Antoine Saint-Exupéry’s 1931 novel Vol de Nuit, once a popular eatery and cabaret called The Pepper Pot and then The Samovar. We can still see it thanks to Jessie Tarbox Beals’s legendary images of lower Manhattan and perhaps hear it in the recordings of Al Jolson who is believed to have performed there in his early career. In the upcoming seasons, Centro Primo Levi will present at Vol de Nuit a series of intimate readings and conversations.

There are currently no on view at Casa Italiana