St Louisan Elizabeth Bernhardt Announces Publication of Book on the Life of Bologna Woman: Genevra Sforza de' Bentivoglio
President, St Louis - Bologna Sister Cities
As the year 2022 draws to a close - a year in which we celebrated the 35th anniversary of the St Louis-Bologna Sister Cities - we have yet another reason to celebrate. Our board member and VP, Elizabeth Bernhardt, Ph.D., has announced the publication of her long-awaited book on the life of renaissance Bolognese noblewoman Genevra Sforza de' Bentivoglio.
In 2019, after living in Italy for over twenty years, Dr. Bernhardt returned to her birthplace, St Louis. Having fallen in love with Italy, its language and culture, and in particular with the city of Bologna, she brought her passion home. Among many other things, Bernhardt has been assisting in bringing our two cities closer together. Most importantly, for the past four years, she has dedicated a tremendous amount of time and effort into ground-breaking research which uncovers mysteries surrounding the life of the above mentioned famous (or infamous) figure in Renaissance Bologna. In a social media announcement this week, Bernhardt expressed her excitement upon finishing her magnum opus:
"I'm extra-thrilled to announce the publication of my book about the life of a 15th c. Bolognese woman: Genevra Sforza de' Bentivoglio. For the past 500 years she's been known only through legends and tales that have snowballed into our own times. The final chapter of the book is dedicated to the development of those many stories - but the first five chapters recount and analyze the history of her life based on documentation uncovered in around thirty different Italian archives."
The book is being published by Amsterdam University Press and will be available for purchase in early 2023. Dr. Bernhardt currently serves as Lecturer of Italian at Washington University in St Louis where she teaches Italian language and culture courses. She completed her Ph.D. in early modern European history at the University of Toronto. She has also taught a variety of Italian history and culture courses for the University of California in Rome, the American University of Rome and the Liceo Classico Statale Giulio Cesare in Rome. During her time in Italy, she published two manuals on early modern Italian art history.
Dr. Bernhardt's manuscript on Genevra Sforza de’ Bentivoglio (ca. 1441-1507) and her family won an award (as best “unpublished manuscript” from the Society of Italian Historical Studies). Based upon contemporary archival research, her revisionist biography presents Genevra as the object of serious study for the very first time in academia. In a description of her book, Bernhardt explains that "until now Genevra has been known only through negative posthumous accounts used to destroy her image and reputation." Delving into the life and mindset of Renaissance Italy and exploring how one noblewoman's life turned into a developing drama, including how she "destroyed" her family and the city of Bologna, known for its ancient university culture and critical thinking, promises a fascinating read.
With great joy, we congratulate Elizabeth Bernhardt on this great achievement.