Susan Shifrin

Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities

20062007 Forum on Travel

Susan Shifrin

Assistant Professor, Art History, Associate Director, Education, Berman Museum of Art, Ursinus College

The “Well-Travel’d” Story of the Duchess Mazarin: A Case Study in Early Modern Border Crossing

In 1666 at the age of 20, Hortense Mancini, Duchess of Mazarin, abandoned her husband and her family home after five years of marriage. Considered a great adventuress and femme fatale, she became infamous throughout Europe for many things, notably her skill with swords and pistols, her penchant for dressing in men’s clothing, and her affair with Charles II. Using the literal, geographical “border crossings” of the Duchess Mazarin as a synecdoche for her various transgressions of boundaries of all kinds, Dr. Shifrin will explore the ways in which this woman (and by extension, a number of her contemporaries) crossed geographical, gendered, and socio-cultural boundaries.