Jessica Goethals

This page reflects a scholar's association with the Folger Institute.

Long-term fellowship

"Margherita Costa and the Audacity of Italian Literature and Spectacle" (Matilda D. Mascioli Fellowship, 2016-2017)

Margherita Costa won acclaim across the courts of seventeenth-century Rome, Florence, Turin, Paris, and possibly Brunswick-Lüneburg as an opera singer and prolific poet and dramatist. Boasting an impressive array of fourteen publications across literary and theatrical genres (from historical writing to burlesque comedy, from amorous letters to equestrian ballet) as well as a stylistic versatility ranging from the lofty and elegiac to the grotesque and satirical, Costa attracted the protection of courtly patrons and the admiration of men of letters. Despite these successes, however, she has gone almost entirely ignored by modern scholarship due to long‐enduring misconceptions about women’s writing in Counter-Reformation Italy, enduring prejudices against Costa as a courtesan and therefore as an unacceptable member of the literary tradition, and a general disdain for the Baroque as an era of “bad taste.” My project aims to dislodge just such sentiments. The Folger Library possesses one of the largest collections of Costa’s publications in the world, as well as numerous manuscripts and rare books connected directly to the singer‐poet and her circles. My monograph will touch on her life, publications, influences, and Intellectual-cultural relationships across Italy and France.

Short-term fellowship

“The Enduring Textual Afterlife of the Sack of Rome (1527)” (2015–2016)