Informations and abstract
One of the ways in which the Counter Reformation church sought to articulate and disseminate its values and morals was through the medium of print. In particular, illustrated broadsheets and verses were used in the campaign to discipline prostitution and encourage prostitutes to reform. Much recent scholarship has focused on such didactic texts, showing how the church used them to regulate individual conduct. This paper questions the efficacy of such dominant discourse and suggests that we need to be more aware of the presence and potential power of competing and alternative discursive practices during this period. With reference to concepts of narrativity and narrative identities this paper explores the relationship between official narratives of prostitution, and the personal narrative identities of prostitutes and their clients in early seventeenth century Rome. The sources used are moralising broadsheets, and criminal records from the Tribunale Criminale del Governatore in Rome. It finds that prostitutes frequently employed quite different narrative strategies to account for their experiences, often implicitly rejecting the stigmatising characterisations of the moralising narratives and stressing their liberty to live as they wished and needed. The author then discusses possible alternative narrative sources upon which these women might have drawn when constructing their narrated identities.