Elizabeth Bernhardt's major research interests focus on women’s culture and family life in Renaissance Italy. She also studies Italian artists and artisan culture from the 15th c. as well as in today’s world. She completed her PhD in early modern European history at the University of Toronto and has lived in Italy for over twenty years. There she 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. In Rome she published two manuals on early modern Italian art history. In the past she has also enjoyed teaching Italian courses at Saint Louis University. She loves Italy and is thrilled to be teaching Italian language and culture courses now at Washington University. Bernhardt has also spent significant time in several French-speaking countries including Switzerland, France and Canada…so she is excited to be teaching French at WashU now too!
Her area of specialization is 15th c. Bologna, and her manuscript on Genevra Sforza de’ Bentivoglio (ca. 1441-1507) and her enormous family won an award (as best “unpublished manuscript” from the Society of Italian Historical Studies) and is about to be published as a thoroughly revised book at Amsterdam University Press. Based on contemporary archival research conducted in about thirty archives across Italy, her revisionist biography presents Genevra as the object of serious academic study for the first time—because until now Genevra has been known only through negative posthumous accounts used to destroy her image and reputation. The book explores how Genevra’s life turned into a developing saga (500+ years in the making) about how she destroyed her family and the city of Bologna, known for its ancient university culture and critical thinking.