‘Of Women Learned in the Tongues’: Gender and Language in the Early Modern Mediterranean
What insights can gender, and in particular the experiences of women, bring to our understanding of the multilingual linguistic landscape of the early modern Mediterranean?
Recent years have seen growing interest in language and communication in the early modern Mediterranean, in particular its multilingual character. The focus has been largely on men – male merchants, diplomats, slaves, and soldiers. Women have been almost entirely ignored. This may be because contemporaries considered monolingualism women’s natural state, a byproduct of their domestic isolation, contrasted to men’s engagement in public spaces. Recovering women’s experiences and injecting gender into the discourse on language allows us to show women’s active participation in the Mediterranean’s multilingual ecology of language, but also to recalibrate our understanding of men and their roles.
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