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Nuns: A History of Convent Life: 1450-1700
Praised in The Atlantic Monthly as an "engrossing narrative," Nuns tells the fascinating stories of the women who have lived in religious communities during some of the most tumultuous years in European history. Drawing particularly on the nuns' own words, Silvia Evangelisti reveals their ideals and achievements, frustrations and failures, and their attempts to reach out t ...more
Paperback, 301 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA
(first published April 26th 2007)
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This book covers a LOT - it looks at several centuries, across not only Western Europe but Canada and Mexico. The chapters are divided by theme - nuns and writing! nuns and economics! nuns and theater! etc - so it's a bit hard to get a sense of the timeline, or changes across any one region or community. It might have benefited from a more detailed introduction that gave a bit more background into the period and what convent life was like before jumping into the topics.
So I didn't exactly walk ...more
So I didn't exactly walk ...more
This examines the lives of nuns in the 16th to 18th century mostly with occasional coments on the continuing traditions and some of the reasons that somethings are the way they are today. It was interesting to see how the council of Trent completely changed things from where Nuns could have interaction with the outside world. Before it they could go out into the world and retreat to their cloister but after it they couldn't go out. Their influence and interaction with other people was utterly ch ...more
Dec 14, 2012 Lauren Albert rated it 3 of 5 stars · review of another edition
This was disappointing in that I got no sense at all of what life was like for most nuns in their day-to-day lives. Evanelisti focuses on other things--nuns' roles in cultural productions(theater, music, the visual arts, etc.) and then missionary activity. She discusses the debates over enclosure. She mentions tantalizing facts like the difference between upper-class "choir" nuns and lower-class "servant" nuns. I read the book hoping for an understanding of the life from their perspective but li ...more
Probably like most, and not being Catholic, I have always been fascinated by nuns. This book is a true history, so if one were looking for a bunch of sensationalism, wrong place. Evangelisti's thesis is thought provoking, at least to me: For most of the last 1500 years, nuns were about the only people who could somewhat self direct and even hone their talents. As wives and daughters, women were chattel, but in the cloister, many came into their own as writers, musicians, poets, as well as theolo ...more
This book tells the history of nuns, with a focus on the early modern/Reformation period. The book discusses life in the typical convent, women's motivations for becoming nuns, and literary and artistic nuns and their work. It finishes with a chapter on convents in the New World and in the European colonies of the 18th and 19th centuries.