Ramie Targoff

Ramie Targoff

Robert Lehman Visiting Professor
Shakespeare's Sisters


Ramie Targoff is Professor of English, Co-Chair of Italian Studies, and Director of the Mandel Center for the Humanities at Brandeis University. She received her BA in English from Yale University in 1989, and her PhD in English from the University of California, Berkeley in 1996. She is the author of Renaissance Woman: The Life of Vittoria Colonna (2018); Common Prayer: The Language of Public Devotion (2001); John Donne, Body and Soul (2008); and Posthumous Love: Eros and the Afterlife in Renaissance England (2014); her translation, Vittoria Colonna, Poems of Widowhood: A Bilingual Edition of the 1538 Rime, is forthcoming in the summer of 2021.

Project Summary

Shakespeare’s Sisters explores the overlapping lives and writing of four extraordinary Renaissance women writers: Mary Herbert, Aemilia Lanyer, Elizabeth Cary, and Anne Clifford. All four were all born in late sixteenth-century England and recognized as writers in their own lifetime, but then more or less entirely forgotten from the canon English literature until the late twentieth century. The book brings their lives and works into conversation with one another, and proposes an alternative literary history in which women were paving a proto-feminist tradition of their own.