Now that I’ve started my PhD, I thought I’d share the outline of my topic:
My research interests lie in late renaissance and early modern Italy, particularly women on the margins of society such as prostitutes and nuns. These interests come together in my PhD research which is focused on the monastery of Santa Elisabetta delle Convertite in Florence which offered a refuge to repentant prostitutes from 1330 to 1808. The aim of this research is to investigate how women entered the convent and what life was like within. Its inhabitants were from the lowest strata of society and lived in a state of poverty at Santa Elisabetta. There, women were subject to a program of reform which included low food rations and, unusually, no servant nuns. Santa Elisabetta offers a unique insight into the lives of women who were at the very margins of society: as women, prostitutes and finally enclosed nuns. It will fill an important gap in our knowledge of poor women and poor nuns by answering questions such as: Who were the women admitted to the Convertite? Were admissions voluntarily, coerced or forced? How did women adapt from their previous life to the convent and enclosure?