Isabella d’Este’s letters win scholarly prize

Isabella d’Este’s Selected Letters (Toronto and Tempe AZ: Iter Academic Press and Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2017), translated and edited by IDEA co-director Deanna Shemek of the University of California, Irvine, has been awarded the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women’s prize for the best translation of a woman’s work in 2017. The committee selected Shemek’s edition in translation “because it provides the first collection of a broad selection of d’Este’s letters and the first translation of this material into English.” Committee members praised the volume’s “clear presentation of biographical detail in the excellent work done in situating d’Este’s significance culturally and historically in Shemek’s introduction.  They also noted that the volume “represents a monumental undertaking in both scale and scope,”  given Shemek’s “decision to include letters that cover a broad range of topics—including trade, political diplomacy, and art collecting [which] convey to the reader a sense of life in Renaissance Europe while also directly engaging issues that will be of interest to scholars who study women/gender, violence against women, reproduction, sexuality, and marriage.” Finally, the committee also recognized “the stunning scope of this translation and the significant labor of the translation of [hundreds] of letters from manuscript. To have these letters in print and translated will open up the study of d’Este to many more students and scholars. The breadth of the collection makes this volume relevant to a wide audience.”