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The Contest for KnowledgeDebates over Women's Learning in Eighteenth-Century Italy$
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Maria Gaetana Agnesi

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780226010540

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226010564.001.0001

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Diamante Medaglia Faini

Diamante Medaglia Faini

(p.141) V Diamante Medaglia Faini
The Contest for Knowledge
University of Chicago Press

This chapter presents an oratory made by Diamante Medaglia Faini before Unanimi of Salò to champion women's education. Implicitly rejecting the example of her own intellectual trajectory in her oration, Medaglia Faini advocated a remarkable curriculum for women virtually devoid of the conventional literary instruction with its emphasis on poetry reading and composition. Instead, she argued for a “feminine” education steeped in philosophy and the sciences, religious history, logic, and, most importantly, mathematics and physics. She cited Cicero, Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, and Horace to defend the primacy of philosophy and science in her curriculum. Anticipating the likely attacks on the propriety of teaching women classical philosophy, she quoted extensively from such noted theologians as Jean Mabillon, Saint Basil the Great, the French Jansenist Charles Rollin, and the Church Father Clement of Alexandria, all of whom defended the importance of the pagan philosophy in the education of Christian students.

Keywords:   Diamante Medaglia Faini, Unanimi of Salò, women's education, literary education, pagan philosophy, Jean Mabillon, Saint Basil the Great, Charles Rollin

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