Novella (d. 1333)

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Novella (d. 1333)

Italian university instructor of law. Born in Bologna in the early 1300s; died in 1333.

The daughter—and most promising student—of a Bolognese law professor, Novella caused an uproar when she lectured in her father's place on the few occasions he was not able to attend class. Not only were 14th-century university officials horrified at the thought of a woman in such a position of authority, they also believed that a female teacher would incite lust in the classroom, and that the students, overcome with desire, would not be able to focus on her lectures. No one more qualified than Novella could be found to fill in, however, so a compromise was reached; she lectured from behind a curtain to shield her students from her feminine body. Novella died in 1333.

Lisa Frick , freelance writer, Columbia, Missouri

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