Margaret Rosenthal

Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature
Email Office THH 155D Office Phone (213) 740-3702


  • Ph.D. Italian, Yale University, 1985
  • B.A. Italian and English Literature, Douglass College, 1975
  • Tenure Track Appointments

    • Professor of Italian, USC, 2009 –
    • Associate Professor of Italian, University of Southern California, 1992 –
    • Asisstant Professor, University of Southern California, 1985 – 1991
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    While Professor Rosenthal views herself as a literary historian of early-modern Italy, her research and teaching interests involve several disciplines beyond literature. Up through her second book (The Honest Courtesan, University of Chicago Press, 1998), the central issues raised in her scholarship were what women writers in the past produced in urban settings, and how they succeeded, despite considerable obstacles, in publishing and disseminating their works. Since 1999 her primary interest has shifted to the history and uses of clothing in early-modern Italy. In both her previous and present work she attempts to show the multiple ways in which social and cultural norms shape behavior and activity in the public arena. In The Honest Courtesan, she explored Veronica Franco’s various public appearances in Venice, including her poems, as interrelated examples of her negotiations with the political, ideological and cultural structures of her place and time. In her third book, The Clothing of the Renaissance World: Cesare Vecellio’s Costume Book 1590/1598 (London: Thames and Hudson, November, 2008), coauthored and co-translated with Ann R. Jones, she explores the ways that clothing in the early modern period had the power to enforce manners and customs. Their book is the first English translation of Cesare Vecellio’s Habiti antichi et moderni di diverse parti del mondo, the most ambitious example in the sixteenth century of a book of prints illustrating and commenting on the clothing worn by people throughout the world. Vecellio’s nearly 500 page book includes 415 woodcuts of clothing from Europe, Asia, and Africa and twenty-one from the New World.

    Research Keywords

    Italian Renaissance, social history, Renaissance women writers, fashion, costume history, Venetian culture, renaissance popular culture

  • Conference Presentations

    • “`Girls Gone Wild’: Virgins to Courtesans in Medieval and Renaissance Italian Literature,” USC Fisher Art Gallery, October 2006 Talk/Oral Presentation, Invited, 2006-2007
    • “A Merchant of Fashion: Venetian Clothing, Customs and Commercial Markets in Cesare Vecellio’s Habiti antichi et diversi (1590),” Duke University, February 2007 Talk/Oral Presentation, 2006-2007
    • “Did Women Have a Renaissance?” USC Association of Trojan Leagues, Board of Directors Meeting, April 2007 Talk/Oral Presentation, Invited, 2006-2007
    • “Vecellio’s Women: Custom, Costume and Commerce in the Habiti antichi et diversi,” University of California, Berkeley, March 2006 Talk/Oral Presentation, Invited, 2006-2007
    • “Vecellio’s Venice,” Renaissance Society of America, April 2007 Talk/Oral Presentation, 2006-2007
    • Chair, “Negotiating Women: Diplomacy and Political History,” Renaissance Society of America, April 2007 Chair, Invited, 2006-2007
    • The Politics of Space: Courts in Europe and the Mediterranean, ca. 1500-1750: “Space, Gender and Power,” Huntington Library, January 2007 Chair, Invited, 2006-2007

    Other Presentations

    • “Renaissance Postcards of Temporality: Fashion and Custom in Illustrated Alba amicorum” , Dept. Colloquium, , 2003-2004
    • “Collecting and Assembling a Fashionable Identity Abroad: An Examination of Two German University Students’ Illustrated Autograph Albums of the Late Sixteenth-Century” , The History of Material Texts Workshop, University of Pennsylvania, 2002-2003
    • “Dangerous Beauty”, Pre-Screening of Dangerous Beauty, Warner Grand Theater, San Pedro, 2000-2001
    • “Veronica Franco” USC Trojan League of Orange County Fundraising Benefit for the Humanities at USC, USC Trojan League of Orange County Fundraising Benefit for the Humanities at USC, Norris Theater, 2000-2001
    • Italian Renaissance Women Writers”, Satellite lecture on Italian Renaissance Women Writers (to University of Rome), NYU, 1999-2000
  • Book

    • Rosenthal, M. F., Jones, A. R. (2008). The Clothing of the Renaissance World.
    • Rosenthal, M. F.Options for Teaching Women Writers of the Italian Renaissance. New York: Modern Language Association.
    • Rosenthal, M. F. (1998). M. Rosenthal and A. R. Jones, translators and eds., Poems and Selected Letters of Veronica Franco, 1998.
    • Rosenthal, M. F. (1992). The Honest Coutesan: Veronica Franco, Citizen and Writer in Sixteenth-Century Venice, 1992.

    Book Chapters

    • Rosenthal, M. F. (2007). Fashion, Custom and Culture in Two Early-Modern Illustrated Albums. pp. 79-107. Biblos.
    • Rosenthal, M. F. (2006). Cutting a Good Figure: The Fashions of Venetian Courtesans in the Illustrated Albums of Early Modern Travelers. pp. 52-74. Oxford University Press.
    • Rosenthal, M. F. (2004). “`A Whore’s vices are really virtues’: The Erotics of Satire in Pietro Aretino’s Ragionamenti,” in Pietro Aretino’s Ragionamenti,” an introductory essay to Aretino’s Dialogues. Toronto: University Of Toronto Press.
    • Rosenthal, M. F. (1999). “Moda ed identita? nazionale in Italia all’inizio dell’eta? moderna,” in Atti del XVI Congresso dell’AISLLI (Associazione Internazionale per lo Studio della Lingua e della Letteratura Italiana). Edizione Cadmo.
    • Rosenthal, M. F. (1993). • “Venetian Women Citizens and Their Discontents,” in Sexuality and Gender in Early Modern Europe: Institutions, Texts and Images, ed. James G. Turner. pp. 107-132. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    • Rosenthal, M. F. (1989). • “A Courtesan’s Voice: Epistolary Self-Portraiture in Veronica Franco’s Terze rime,” Writing the Female Voice: Essays on Epistolary Literature, ed. Elizabeth C. Goldsmith. pp. 3-24. Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press.


    • Rosenthal, M. F. (1995). “Epilogue” in Aretino’s Dialogues. pp. 387-412. New York. Marsilio Editore.

    Journal Article

    • Rosenthal, M. F. (2008). “Fashions of Friendship in Two Early-Modern Illustrated Alba Amicorum”. The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies.
    • Rosenthal, M. F. (1989). Veronica Franco’s Terze Rime: The Venetian Courtesan’s Defense. Renaissance Quarterly. Vol. 42 (2), pp. 227-257.
    • • Designed and Taught a Micro-Seminar for USC in-coming freshmen on “The Renaissance Woman,”, LAS, 2006-2007
    • Designed and Taught a Micro-Seminar for USC in-coming Freshmen on “The Renaissance Woman,” A, LAS, Spring 2006
    • Historical Consultant, Dangerous Beauty (Warner Brothers, 1998)

      Author of book (The Honest Courtesan) on which the film is based, 1992-1998

    • Creative Consultant, American Music Theatre Project: Northwestern University, August 2008
      Premiere of “Dangerous Beauty” themusical based on my book The Honest Courtesan and the movie, “Dangerous Beauty”

      National Alliance of Musical Theatre, 18th Annual Festival of New Musicals (only 8 selected from 100s of applications), October 2006

      , 2006-2008

    • USC Website ,
      A USC website on the courtesan poet, Veronica Franco, 2007-2011
    • Guest Editor, Special issue of The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Duke University Press), “Cultures of Clothing in Early Modern Europe,” a peer-reviewed journal which will include 6-7 essays, scheduled for publication in Fall 2009

      , 2007-2009

    • USC Mellon Award for Mentoring, 2009-2010
    • USC Associates Award For Excellence In Teaching, 2006-2007
    • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship Recipient, 2002-2003
    • Renaissance Society of America Research Grant, 1999-2000
    • USC or School/Dept Award for Teaching, USC General Education Teaching Award, 1999-2000
    • USC College Award for Research, 1997-1998
    • Maggie Pexton Murray Grant, Doris Stein Center, LACMA, 1996-1997
    • USC Zumberge Research and Innovation Fund Award, 1996-1997
    • USC Faculty Recognition Award for Research, 1995-1996
    • USC Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition Award, 1995
    • Visiting Fellowship, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University (1993, postponed to May 1995), 1994-1995
    • USC or School/Dept Award for Teaching, USC Mortar Board Faculty of the Month, 1995/04
    • The Howard R. Marraro Prize by the Modern Language Association of America for the best book in Italian and Comparative literature, The Honest Courtesan: Veronica Franco, Citizen and Writer in Sixteen, 1994
    • American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship Recipient, 1989-1990
    • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship Recipient, Summer Fellowship, 1987-1988
    • USC or School/Dept Award for Teaching, USC Funds in Innovative Teaching Award, 1987-1988
    • USC Zumberge Research and Innovation Fund Award, 1987-1988
    • Gladys Krieble Delmas Summer Fellowship, 1986-1987
  • Administrative Appointments

    • Director, Center for Feminist Research, USC, 1993 – 1995


    • Member, Editorial Board:The Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library, University of Toronto Press, 2006 –
    • Member, Faculty Council, 2006 –
    • Member, Shoah Foundation Research Committee “Resisting Genocide” funded by USC College 20/20 research team, 2010-2011
    • Member, USC College Personnel Committee for Promotions, 2010-2011
    • Member, Advisory Board: Modern Language Association Executive Council, PMLA Advisory Committee, 2007 – 2010
    • Member, Selection Committee for Funds in Undergraduate Innovative Teaching Award, Spring 2010
    • Chair, MLA Publication Committee: Texts and Translations Series Editorial Board, 2004-2005

    Review Panels

    • ACLS Early Career Fellowship Program, Dissertation Completion Fellowship of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, 2006 – 2008

    Other Service to the University

    • Lectures for Center for the Excellence in Teaching
      “Publishing in Humanities Journals” January 2010
      , 2010-2011
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