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This chapter asks where and how Rome (and, by extension, polemics self-consciously characterized as reactions against Rome) figures in efforts to determine what the living owe to the dead, and what the dead can do for the living. Latin occupies a controlling position within this inquiry; so, too, do texts that cast the world of the living as the home of the dead; so, finally, do Reformation-era debates about the soteriological stakes of praying for the dead. These topics span a period of time in which Rome is the gravitational centre of a sequence of massive upheavals in vernacular piety and attendant debates about the relationship between the living and the dead. The chapter argues that interpreting these debates as facets of the fact of Rome alerts us to the role that the human voice plays in probing the limits of mortality and the nature of the human as such.
This chapter looks at the last phase of the communications circuits, in which texts move from producers to readers or listeners. It studies the various means through which women of all social classes could encounter texts. It is most concerned with books as objects that women came to own, through gift-giving (especially in the case of Books of Hours), dowries and inheritance, by commissioning manuscripts, through purchases, and through borrowing from other members of their communities. It also considers the contexts in which women could hear texts performed in song or speech. The chapter ends with a case study of the acquisition of books by a prominent Renaissance consort, Isabella d’Este, Marchioness of Mantua.
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