Skip Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Dr Valerio Zanetti


I received my undergraduate degree from the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, writing an iconographical study of the Mannerist Sacro Bosco of Bomarzo. I was then awarded a master’s degree in Eighteenth Century Studies from the University of Sheffield with a prize-winning dissertation on political women’s dress in Revolutionary Paris. Between 2016 and 2020, I completed a PhD in History at the University of Cambridge (St John’s College), where my project on female equestrian culture in seventeenth-century France was funded by the AHRC and the Cambridge Trust. I since held fellowships with the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice, the Society for Renaissance Studies, the Warburg Institute, the Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies and the Herzog August Bibliothek. In 2021, I collaborated with the Refashioning the Renaissance ERC-funded project at Aalto University.

At Cambridge, I taught various History papers including ‘European History, 1450–1760’, ‘Material Culture in the Early Modern World’ and ‘Historical Argument and Practice’. In March 2022, I was a guest lecturer for the ‘Women in Western Culture’ paper at Florida State University International Programs.  

Research Interests

My research interests encompass various aspects of early modern European cultural history, with a special focus on the French Grand Siècle. I am particularly intrigued by the role of health-related practices, such as physical exercise, in shaping early modern gender and national identities. I am also interested in the study of early modern dress and fashion as embodied practice.

I am currently writing my first monograph discussing the emergence of the Amazon as a fashionable model of athletic femininity in seventeenth-century France.

Other past research projects investigated women’s regattas in early modern Venice, the medical underpinnings of national characters and hunting as a form of affective exercise.

My new project Strong Women explores the embodied side of the French querelle des femmes, examining gendered notions of bodily strength and physical exercise in early modern medicine, pedagogy and art.


Book Chapters
  • ‘Un giro di valzer’, in V. La Mendola and M. Villano (eds), Film da sfogliare: Dalla pagina allo schermo (Milano: Vita e Pensiero, 2013)
  • (forthcoming) ‘“Nothing is fashionable till it be deformed”: Sartorial Materials and Aesthetic Ideals of Beauty in Early Modern Europe’, in S. Toulalan (ed.) A Cultural History of Beauty in the Early Modern Age (London: Bloomsbury)
  • (forthcoming) ‘Experiment in focus: Wearing an Early Modern Doublet’, in P. Hohti (ed.), Refashioning the Renaissance: Everyday Dress and the Reconstruction of Early Modern Material Culture, 1550–1650 (Manchester: Manchester University Press)
  • (forthcoming) ‘Diana in Amazonian Dress: Fashioning the French Huntress in the Mercure Galant, 1672–1715’, in L. Beck and M. Saß (eds), Hunting Troubles: Gender and its Intersections in the Cultural History of the Hunt (London: Palgrave Macmillan)