In few national traditions has the issue of the canon been as crucial as it has for Italian literature. The standard language itself in Italy is defined by reference to three canonical writers of Trecento Tuscany. Literary practice too, beginning in the Cinquecento, has followed the linguistic and stylistic examples of two of these "tre corone." Partly because of powerful, centrifugal forces of cultural and linguistic autonomy at the local level, there has always been a countervailing pressure in Italian cultural exchange toward standardization. During the many centuries of political disunity, moreover, the literary canon served as the principal locus for definitions of Italian identity, a function that, to a lesser extent, it continues to fill today. (1) In the 1960s and 1970s, when changes began to be made in the canons of other national literatures, Italians began to rethink their literary heritage as well. In Italy, as in many other countries, women authors were identified, rehabilitated, and added to an extended list that determined what Italian literature was. But it was more difficult in Italy to discover excluded "others" than it was in the United States, for example, with its history of slavery, or in the post-colonial lands of the mostly defunct French and British empires. In Italy, a country without a history of either slavery or imperialism on an extensive (or very successful) scale, efforts have been made only recently to identify and rehabilitate the kinds of "others" that in different national literatures had come much earlier to the fore.