There’s a very fun blog called The Page 99 Test, which aims to apply Ford Madox Ford’s dictum ‘Open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you’ to a whole host of texts.
Eric Dursteler, who will be speaking to us at York on the theme of ‘Food, Faith and Conversion’ in February, applied the test to his recent book Renegade Women: Gender, Identity, and Boundaries in the Early Modern Mediterranean. As Dursteler explains, renegade was a term used very precisely to define those men and women who renounced their religion and converted to another faith. Dursteler expands this definition to include numerous stories of women who transgressed religious, social and geographical boundaries in a range of ways. Page 99 takes us straight into the story of a family of renegade women who fled from the island of Milos to the Venetian territory of Corfu. To find out more, read the Page 99 blog post. Dursteler’s work makes an important contribution both to our understanding of the lives and experiences of early modern women, and to the complex politics of gender, family, kinship, and religious experience.