The Case of Catterina Vizzani (1751): Transgender Life in the Eighteenth Century

The Case of Catherine Vizzani (1751) is a unique combination of travel narrative, erotic novel, medical treatise and moral pamphlet. It was translated by the former pornographer John Cleland from the Italian surgeon Giovanni Bianchi's original Breve storia della vita di Catterina Vizzani romana (1743). It is divided into a preface on the nature of love (likely written by John Cleland), a narrative that recount's Giovanni Bordoni's (aka Catherine Vizzzani) life as a transgender man, serial lover and criminal kidnapper, an anatomical treatise on Bordoni's autopsy, and a condemnation of Bordoni by Cleland. This exhibition departs from standard readings of the text by viewing Bordoni as a transgender man, and by focusing on his life, rather than his death.