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A Destiny of Her Own: A thousand years of “Hidden Figures” in Italian Science

This short, 6-week course will explore the fascinating stories of six Italian female scientists who lived between the eleventh and the twenty-first centuries, and without whom science would have been very different today. This course is held online and consists of pre-reading worksheets including primary sources (approx. 1 hour of independent study per week) plus interactive seminars for six weeks. 

Application status: Closed

Next Course: TBC


In this course you will discover some of the most influential and pioneering studies made by six Italian women in the sciences, with a special focus on patterns of education, access, barriers, and opportunities for women’s work in science. We will also consider the relevance of Latin and the Classics in the trajectories of their lives. Throughout a thousand years of Italian history, we will uncover the ideas, discoveries, and insights of these exceptional women who changed the way we see the world. 

A fundamental question will be addressed: "How different would science be today without their contributions?"

​Over the course of six, interactive sessions you will have the opportunity to: appreciate and learn the lives of these resilient women as well as the resiliency of their scientific work; explore how they engage with the scientific tradition of the past and their times; consider the reception of their work during their lifetime and their relevance today; situate the texts within their historical and political context; use the selected extracts as prompts to think about what it means to be a woman (or someone from a minority group) in science, then and now. All primary material will be provided in English translation.

Each week will focus on a different scientist and selected extracts from their work(s), including:

  • 10 Nov: Trota of Salerno and the “mulieres Salernitanae” at the Schola Medica

  • 17 Nov: The myth of Dorotea Bocchi: the first female professor in a world without women?

  • 24 Nov: Laura Bassi, Bologna’s New “Minerva”

  • 1 Dec: The world of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, mathematician of God

  • 8 Dec: In Praise of Imperfection: the life and work of Rita Levi Montalcini

  • 15 Dec: Ilaria Capua, “I, Virus Trafficker”: a story of science and bitter injustice

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Lead Tutor: Sara

6-week course | Full Fee: £12


Application status: Closed

How to Apply 

1. Enrol on your chosen course by purchase made via the store

2. Wait for your place confirmation email 

3. Receive your Pre-class tasks for Week 1

In the meantime, follow us on Instagram (@forte_academy) where we'll be posting under the course hashtag #ADestinyofherOwn. 

Feedback from Forte Academy students....


"I was introduced to the world of classics and brilliant writers who I knew nothing about. As someone who gave up on studying history at school, this made me want to learn even more. Thank you to Florence for sharing your passion for this subject and the authors. It's been thrilling to learn about some radical amazing women writers."
- Amy, Radical Renaissance Writers, 2021.

"I absolutely loved this course! I learnt so much and it wasn’t as restrictive or closed-off as traditional classical learning can be. A real chance to genuinely expand what classics means to a student of it"
- Kasia, CA 2021 Challenge the Canon, 2021.

"I am absolutely blown away by how much information I received during this course. It feels like so many more doors have been opened for me to explore, and thanks to Florence and the team my appetite for the Classics has increased tremendously!"
- Erin, CA 2021 Challenge the Canon, 2021.

"Thoroughly enjoyed the course, felt that it was at an accessible level for someone with history knowledge but limited latin background. Would recommend to others and would love to do another course with the Forte Academy"
- Sophie, CA 2021 Challenge the Canon, 2021.

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