A photo of Susan Gaylard

Susan Gaylard

Charles Speroni Visiting Associate Professor

Office: Royce Hall 340G Fields of interest: Medieval and early modern culture, history of the book, fashion, race

Susan Gaylard is the Charles Speroni Visiting Associate Professor of Italian for Winter 2022. She is an Associate Professor of Italian Studies and affiliate faculty in Art History at the University of Washington, Seattle. She studied at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa before completing her PhD at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research and teaching focus on the intersection of literary, material, and political culture, from Petrarch’s coin-collecting to the collections of Dolce e Gabbana. Her book, Hollow Men: Writing, Objects, and Public Image in Renaissance Italy (Fordham UP, 2013), analyzes texts and artifacts from the 14th century to the 1590s, to show that theories of emulating classical heroes generated a deep skepticism about representation, contributing to the separation of the image from reality. 

She is currently completing Beautiful Monsters, a pan-European project explaining the erasure or modification of images of women in 16th-century printed books. Professor Gaylard’s third book, Cinderella’s Fashioncorrelates Italian anxieties about dress with socio-political developments, and nuances prevailing theories of the meaning of fashion by incorporating the history of race-making, from Boccaccio to the present.


  • Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
  • Borsa annuale postlaurea, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa
  • B.A. (Hons), cum laude, University of South Africa
  • B.A., cum laude, University of Cape Town 

Featured Works

Selected Publications


  • “Images of Women from Subject to Frame in Printed Portrait Books,” in Petrarch and Portraiture in Sixteenth-Century Italy, ed. Ilaria Bernocchi, Nicolò Morelli, Federica Pich. Forthcoming with Amsterdam University Press. (9,000 words).  
  • “Machiavelli’s Medical Mandragola: Knowledge, Food, and Feces.” Renaissance Quarterly, 74.1 (2021), 59-93.  
  • “Bodily Objects.” In A Cultural History of Objects in the Renaissance, ed. James Symonds, Vol. 3 of 5, A Cultural History of Objects, general editors Dan Hicks and William Whyte (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2021), 173-194. 
  • “Learning to perform as a cavaliereOrlando furioso and signs of status.” In Teaching The Italian Renaissance Epic. Ed. Jo Ann Cavallo. MLA Options for Teaching Series, 2019. 
  • De mulieribus claris and the disappearance of women from illustrated print biographies.” I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance 18.2 (Nov 2015), 287-318.  
  • “Vanishing Women: Gendering History in Sixteenth-Century Portrait-Books.” In Gender, Agency, and Violence: European Perspectives from Early Modern Times to the Present Day, ed. Ulrike Zitzlsperger (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2013), 1-22.  
  • “Castiglione vs. Cicero: Political Engagement, or Effeminate Chatter?” Italian Culture 27.2 (2009): 81-98.  
  • “Re-envisioning the ancients: Pontano, Ghirlandaio, and exemplarity.” Italian Studies 64.2 (2009): 245-65.  
  •  “‘Naked’ Truth: Clothing and poetic genius in Aretino’s letters.” The Italianist 28 (2008): 179-202.
  • “The Crisis of Word and Deed in Decameron V,10.” The Italian Novella. Ed. Gloria Allaire (Chicago: Routledge, 2003), 33-48. 

Honors and Awards

  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation / Audrey Lumsden-Kouvel / Newberry Library: Long-Term Residential Fellowship (2015-16)
  • Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin: Residential Fellowship (2018)
  • RSA-Kress Foundation / Bodleian Library, University of Oxford: Residential Fellowship (2017)
  • Samuel H. Kress Foundation / Newberry Library: Residential Fellowship (2014)


Professional Activities

  • Editorial board, Renaissance Quarterly 
  • Elected to Modern Language Association, LLC Medieval-Renaissance Italian Forum (2017-2021)