Margaret F. Rosenthal
Professor of Italian, University of Southern California

Margaret F. Rosenthal has spent her whole life immersed in Italian culture. From her birth in Rome to her research on renaissance women writers of Venice, she has made her life work reflect her love of Italy and its rich artistic heritage. She holds a Ph.D. from Yale University, where she specialized in Italian renaissance literature. She combines expertise in literary, social and costume history of early-modern Italy. She is an expert on the life and literature of Veronica Franco and other Italian renaissance women writers. Her book, The Honest Courtesan: Veronica Franco, Citizen and Writer in Sixteenth-Century Venice (University of Chicago Press, 1992) won the Howard R. Marraro Prize from the Modern Language Association of America. Prof. Rosenthal’s book was the basis of the 1998 Warner Bros. film Dangerous Beauty which has acquired a large cable television and DVD fan-base. She also co-authored and co-translated Veronica Franco: Poems and Selected Letters with Ann Rosalind Jones (University of Chicago Press,1998). Recently, they published The Clothing of the Renaissance World: Europe, Asia, Africa, The Americas which is the first translation of Cesare Vecellio’s 1590 costume book, Degli Habiti Antichi et Moderni, (Thames and Hudson, 2008). Their book includes an introduction, technical glossary and explanatory notes. Currently, Dangerous Beauty is being developed into a Broadway-bound musical, for which Professor Rosenthal is the historical and literary advisor. As a professor in the French and Italian Departments at the University of Southern California and the recipient of numerous awards for teaching and mentorship, she continues to share her expertise and enthusiasm with students and Franco enthusiasts alike.


Francesca Martens
Academic Contributor and Site Manager

Francesca is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California Dornsife College for Letters, Arts and Science. In the Fall 2011 she transferred to USC from Santa Monica College. She first encountered Veronica Franco and the world of Venetian courtesans through Professor Rosenthal’s First-Year Investigation course titled “Renaissance Man and Woman”. In the summer of 2012 she received a SURF grant from USC Dornsife in order to travel to Venice and create a Veronica Franco-themed travel itinerary and photo collection, the first of its kind. The itinerary can be found under “Student Perspectives” on this website.


Lauren Maldonado
Lead Research Assistant

Lauren Maldonado is an undergraduate Art History and Biology (Pre-Medical) student at the University of Southern California. As a member of the University’s prestigious Baccalaureate/Medical Program, she has been honored with the opportunity to explore and develop her interests in both the Arts and in the Sciences during her undergraduate experience. Maldonado is also a part of the Thematic Option Honors program, and is recognized as a Presidential Scholar. A painter herself, she is passionate about both the study as well as the creation of art, and is particularly interested in studying the works of women writers and visual artists. In 2008, Maldonado was awarded the Harvard-Westlake School Prize for Excellence in Painting for her senior body of work consisting of over a dozen pieces reflecting diversity, homelessness, and class-division in her native city of Los Angeles.

After meeting and studying with Professor Rosenthal during the summer of 2008 in her USC Micro-Seminar class, “Women of the Renaissance,” she was inspired to research Veronica Franco and renaissance Italian women from the point of view of an art historian. She is particularly fascinated by the rich creative culture and enlightened thought that characterize the Renaissance period, and she looks forward to developing her personal interest and understanding of this time through her collaboration with Professor Rosenthal. Her research contributions to this project are funded by a generous research grant provided by USC’s College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. She greatly looks forward to sharing her passion for this project and art history with others.


Anne Aubert-Santelli
Project Coordinator

Anne Aubert-Santelli graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California in 2007 with Bachelor degrees in Art History and Italian. Her academic pursuits have often centered on multi-dimensional women, like Veronica Franco, who created strong public voices within artistic and literary milieus. Anne’s Senior Honors Thesis in Art History focused on one specific painting by the French Impressionist Berthe Morisot, On the Balcony (1871-1872), a haunting portrait of a woman and child overlooking modern Paris from a balcony. By examining the gaps present in existing criticisms of the painting — particularly those of the feminist lens — and through her own analysis of the image, Anne rejects the characterization of Morisot as a “paradigmatic female artist”. She argues instead that Morisot very skillfully and consciously negotiated her position in the patriarchal art world of 19th century Paris. Anne’s current intellectual interests lie in the social and cultural factors that have influenced and continue to influence food consumption.


Shannon McHugh
Graduate Student Contributor

Shannon McHugh is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Italian Studies at New York University. She briefly considered focusing on modern writers. After she worked under Professor Rosenthal on Veronica Franco, she realized that she would never be happy outside Italy’s community of Early Modern women writers. She is currently working on two such projects: a master’s thesis on the unconventional spiritual dialogues of Chiara Matraini, a laywoman who was one of the only handful of women — among them, Franco — to produce a single-authored collection of poetry in Cinquecento Italy. Ms. McHugh is also working on a translation of an unedited manuscript by Diadata Malvasia, a late-sixteenth-century nun, on the lives of the sisters of a Dominican convent.

Shannon graduated summa cum laude in Italian from the University of Southern California. Before starting graduate school, Shannon worked at the Office of Admission at USC, the U.S. Consulate in Naples, Italy, and Walt Disney World in Florida (the last of which she rarely discusses in polite academic circles). She is a recipient of NYU’s MacCracken Fellowship and the U.S. Department of Education’s Jacob K. Javits Fellowship.

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