Joan Kelly

Joan Kelly

Ask a question about 'Joan Kelly'
Start a new discussion about 'Joan Kelly'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
Joan Kelly was a prominent American historian who wrote on the Italian Renaissance
Italian Renaissance
The Italian Renaissance began the opening phase of the Renaissance, a period of great cultural change and achievement in Europe that spanned the period from the end of the 13th century to about 1600, marking the transition between Medieval and Early Modern Europe...

, specifically on Leon Battista Alberti. She earned a PhD at Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 in 1963 and served as a lecturer, then as an assistant, associate, and full professor of history at the City College of New York
City College of New York
The City College of the City University of New York is a senior college of the City University of New York , in New York City. It is also the oldest of the City University's twenty-three institutions of higher learning...

 of the City University of New York
City University of New York
The City University of New York is the public university system of New York City, with its administrative offices in Yorkville in Manhattan. It is the largest urban university in the United States, consisting of 23 institutions: 11 senior colleges, six community colleges, the William E...

 from 1956 until her death from cancer in 1982. Among her best known works is the article "Did Women Have a Renaissance?" which was published in 1977. The article challenged the contemporary view of the Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

, arguing that women's power and agency declined during the early modern period
Early modern period
In history, the early modern period of modern history follows the late Middle Ages. Although the chronological limits of the period are open to debate, the timeframe spans the period after the late portion of the Middle Ages through the beginning of the Age of Revolutions...


Kelly was married to Eugene Gadol until 1972 and to Martin Fleischer from 1979 until her death.

Did Women Have a Renaissance?

In the essay “Did Women Have a Renaissance?”, Kelly presents a feminist insight into women's role in society during the Renaissance period of the 1350’s to 1530’s. The article mentions females' economic/political roles, sexuality, cultural roles, and the sex-role system of the Renaissance era. Wives of the nobility during this time were granted more power than peasant wives in regard to economic and political roles, although both classes of woman were still imprisoned (in their own homes) during the Renaissance. The Renaissance was an artistic and literary movement. The art work and literature that was created during this time to celebrate life also emphasized female dependency and male domination. As Joan Kelly mentioned in this essay, bourgeois literature expressed the denial of female independence. Therefore, the Renaissance set the world wide norm of female dependency on the male figure. The men had to perform productive labor, while women stayed at home to perform reproductive labor such as house hold duties and child care.

See also

  • Lerner, Gerda. "Joan Kelly." In Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary Completing the Twentieth Century, edited by Susan Ware, 336-338. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.