How do courtesans in Italy and China compare? What might this comparison reveal? Judith Zeitlin, professor of Chinese literature in the department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, and Margaret Francesca Rosenthal, University of Southern California professor of Italian, comparative literature, and English, give focused presentations about courtesan culture in Qing Dynasty China and Renaissance Italy, respectively, and then discuss courtesans and their representation across the two cultures.
Zeitlin’s presentation, “Flesh, Silk, Bamboo: Musical Instruments and Beautiful Women in Late Imperial Visual Culture,” explores the representation of beautiful women as musicians and lavishly ornamented musical instruments as luxury goods in China.
In “Honored Courtesans: Poets and Fashion Icons in Early Modern Italy,” Rosenthal focuses on the so-called “honored courtesan,” who took part in literary salons of the elite, and highlights the career of Venice’s most famous Renaissance courtesan, Veronica Franco, with readings from Franco’s poetry.
Museum Theater. Included with admission