Joan Kelly

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Joan Kelly
Born March 29, 1928
New York City
Died August 15, 1982(1982-08-15) (aged 54)
New York City
Pen name Joan Kelly-Gadol
Occupation Historian, feminist
Nationality American

Joan Kelly (March 29, 1928 – August 15, 1982) was a prominent American historian who wrote on the Italian Renaissance, specifically on Leon Battista Alberti. She earned a PhD at Columbia University in 1963 and served as a lecturer, then as an assistant, associate, and full professor of history at the City College of New York of the City University of New York 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 historiography of the Renaissance, arguing that women's power and agency declined during the early modern period.

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

Did Women Have a Renaissance?[edit]

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 1350s to 1530s. The article mentions females' economic and political roles, sexuality, cultural roles, and the gendered division of labor in the Renaissance era. Wives of the nobility during this time were granted more power than peasant wives in regard to economic and political functions, 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 describes in this essay, bourgeois literature expressed the denial of female independence. Therefore, the Renaissance set the norm of female dependency on the male figure. Men had to perform productive labor, while women stayed at home to perform reproductive labor such as house hold duties and child care.[1]

See also[edit]

  • 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.


  1. ^ Kelly, Joan (1984). Women, History & Theory The Essays of Joan Kelly. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. pp. 19–50. ISBN 0-226-43027-8. 

External links[edit]