Eleonora Carinci: Postdoctoral Fellow (2012-13)

I completed my Ph.D at Cambridge in 2009 with a thesis entitled ‘Lives of the Virgin Mary by Women writers in Post-Tridentine Italy’. My current research is about the paduan apothecary Camilla Erculiani, a rare example of a woman who wrote about scientific questions in the sixteenth century.

In 1584 the Paduan female apothecary Camilla Erculiani published her Lettere di Philosophia Naturale (Letters on Natural Philosophy), in which she expresses her ideas on the natural cause of the Flood and other scientific theories, defending women’s ability to write about philosophy. According to the lawyer Giacomo Menochio (1532-1607), Erculiani was accused for heresy for the ideas expressed in her book and was involved in a inquisitorial trial, but nothing is known about its circumstances and outcome.

Camilla Erculiani’s Lettere brings together a series of questions concerning the figure of the author, the circumstances of the publication of her book, the role of apothecaries in the circulation of knowledge and the relations between science, theology, inquisition and women during the Counter Reformation. My research aims 1) to provide new documents about Erculiani’s life, her cultural network, the sources she used and her inquisitorial trial 2) to publish a modern critical edition of the 'Lettere'.in ‘The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe’ series (Toronto: CRRS).