Category Archives: Early modern

A Renaissance Royal Wedding 1518-2018

From 17 March to 13 May 2018 Oxford’s Bodleian Library’s new Weston Building will host an exhibition entitled A Renaissance Royal Wedding, marking the 500th anniversary of a landmark sixteenth-century match. On 18 April 1518 the Italian princess Bona Sforza married Sigismund I, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, in Cracow cathedral. The lavish nuptials forged links of politics and kinship between the Jagiellonian dynasty of Central Europe and the top families of Renaissance Italy, opening up new channels of communication between the Polish capital and the cities of Italy’s far south – a dynamic exchange of people, books and ideas which continued for decades. Bona Sforza (1494-1557) was a Milanese-Neapolitan princess, from 1518 queen of Poland and from 1524 duchess of Bari, in Puglia, and thus Italian ruler in her own right. King Sigismund (1467-1548) was the scion of a large royal house which, at its peak c. 1525, ruled half of Europe, from Prague to Smolensk. Their wedding was attended by dignitaries and scholars from across Christendom, and their five children – who later ruled in Poland-Lithuania, Sweden and Hungary – presented themselves throughout their lives as Polish-Italian royalty. Bona herself remains a controversial, high-profile figure in Polish memory to this day.

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Convivio: new edition and translation

Andrew Frisardi   Independent scholar

My edition and first fully-annotated translation of one of Dante’s ‘minor’ works, Convivio: A Dual-Language Critical Edition, has recently been published by Cambridge University Press. It is hard to explain in a few words what the Convivio, composed by Dante in exile between 1304 and 1307, is like since it is as unique as most of his works. Let me just say that Dante as the quintessential poet-scholar is his truly unpredictable poet-scholarly self in this book. He gives prose commentaries on three of his own long poems, which are in the book as well, and is mind-bogglingly innovative and visionary with what he does with that. I highly recommend it for an experience of what the poetic intelligence can do when it is operating on all levels, as well as for getting closer to Dante’s thought in the Divine Comedy.    Continue reading

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Blade Runner 2049 meets Il Cortegiano

The improbable encounter between Blade Runner 2049 and Baldassarre Castiglione’s Il Cortegiano (Book 3) is the topic of Jill Burke’s latest entry in her blog. It’s Joi, the holographic super-girl who Agent K keeps in a device in his pocket, not K or any of the replicants in BR 2049, who is the focus – she can be compared to the perfect court lady imagined in the discussions among Castiglione’s courtiers. Burke connects their creation of an imaginary ideal woman with developments in the Renaissance painting of female nudes, setting real-life faces on classically beautiful bodies.

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Senses of Italy: Melbourne Masterclass

Scent, sight, sound, taste, touch: all Italian-style. They are covered in a programme of Thursday evening lectures, Melbourne Masterclass : Senses of Italy, at the University of Melbourne, 6.15 – 8.15pm, 5 October – 2 November 2017. The series starts with Catherine Kovesi on Renaissance perfumes (Venice as olfactory heaven) and Antonio Artese on scent and Aquaflor (5 Oct). Then Christopher Marshall looks at Artemisia Gentileschi’s correspondence (‘it’s all about the money’) and Mark Nicholls at Rossellini’s Voyage to Italy (12 Oct). John Weretka uses paintings and poetry to examine the instruments, repertoires and status of Renaissance musicians (upwardly mobile), followed by Malcolm Angelucci on poetics, music and madness in Italy before 1914 (19 Oct). John Hajek and Anthony White consider Futurism and food, the art and appetites of the antigrazioso (26 Oct). Finally Andrea Rizzi explores the ideas and images of Renaissance texts (‘tactile values’), and Carl Villis reveals some attributions and reattributions of Italian Renaissance art in the National Gallery of Victoria (2 Nov). Further details on the contributions, authors, venue and registration can be found here.

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The Greeks in Venice, 1498‒1600

The Hellenic Museum and Co.As.It. Museo Italiano will launch The Greeks of Venice, 1498‒1600: Immigration, Settlement, and Integration by Ersie C. Burke with a presentation by Carolyn James (Monash University) on Thursday 10 August 2017 at 6.30pm, Co.As.It. Museo Italiano, 199 Faraday Street, Carlton (free event; RSVP here). Burke traces the history of Venice’s Greek population during the formative years between 1498 and 1600 when thousands left their homelands for Venice. She describes how Greeks established new communal and social networks, making the transition from outsiders to insiders (though not quite Venetians) in the context of multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-lingual Venice. This reconstruction of the history of the largest Christian ethnic minority in early modern Venice is interwoven with individual stories drawn from a great variety of sources – notarial documents, petitions, gov­ernment and church records, registries of marriages and deaths, and census data – held in Vene­tian church and state archives and in the Hellenic Institute of Venice.

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Award of the Jo-Anne Duggan Prize 2017

ACIS  is very pleased to announce that the Jo-Anne Duggan Prize 2017 has been awarded to Monique Webber (University of Melbourne) for her essay ‘”In Search of Universal Icons”: Interrogating the Superstar Phenomenon of Early Modern Art through the Photography of Jo-Anne Duggan’. It shows how Jo-Anne Duggan’s photographs – notably those in her exhibitions Before the Museum (2000-2002), Impossible Gaze (2002-2005), and Wondrous Possessions (2010) – explore the impact of the passage of time on the works of forgotten masters and the way we now reflect on them. The essay reveals how Jo-Anne’s approach to Renaissance artworks uncovers the complex marks of superstar culture, the dominant form of our contemporary engagement with art and often regarded as a distinctive symptom of the modern age.  We are also very pleased to give the Highly Commended award to Laelie Greenwood (Monash University) for her essay ‘Private Memory, Public Spaces: An Examination of Memory and Monument within Italian Immigrant Experience in Carlton’.  She analyses the architecture of Malbourne’s Carlton area, using Jo-Anne Duggan’s writings to explore the ways in which Italian-Australians developed a distinctive architectural style in their house facades and renovations to convey their enduring links to the country they had left.

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Language Variation in Renaissance Italy

Josh Brown   Stockholm University

Renaissance Italy saw the creation of the Italian language and of most major European standard languages. In Italy itself, no political centre dominated the entire peninsular, so no standard language was immediately obvious. The dialect chosen for the standard had the most prestigious literary tradition – Florentine. The existing literature has shown how Florentine emerged as a dominant variety in Lombardy – a wealthy region particularly interesting for its mix of political centralisation and persisting local traditions – but it has focussed on literary texts, leaving an entire period of language evolution and variation unexplored in the belief that models of language variation and changes of literary standards will suffice to explain linguistic phenomena in non-literary texts. This bias has recently been discussed by Adam Ledgeway from the University of Cambridge in a lecture at NYU Florence. In my earlier research I looked at the spread of Tuscan in a corpus of non-literary merchant texts sent from Milan in the late 14th century. I am now extending this project to the analysis of the letters of a Milanese nun, Margherita Lambertenghi (?-1454), to produce an innovative conceptualisation of processes of language change in late medieval Lombardy. Continue reading

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Dante, Petrarch, Machiavelli, Pirandello: Remo Bodei in Melbourne and Sydney

imagesThe philosopher Remo Bodei will be giving talks in Melbourne and Sydney in March. Time, eternity, history: Dante, Petrarch, Machiavelli is the title of his talk (in English) at the Italian Cultural Institute, 233 Domain Rd, South Yarra, on Thursday 9 March at 6.30pm (free, booking essential). On Friday March 10, at Co.As.It. – Museo Italiano, 199 Faraday Street, Carlton, he will be talking (in Italian) on Pirandello e la dissoluzione della personalità (free, booking essential), a lecture to mark the 150th anniversary of Pirandello’s birth. He will also be giving this talk in Sydney on 13 March, 4 – 5.30pm, in the Dept of Italian at the University of Sydney (registration here). On March 15, 6 – 7.30pm, he will talk on Memory and Forgetting: A Conflicting Complicity at the State Library of New South Wales (Metcalfe Auditorium, Macquarie Building: information for registration here) . For details of the contents of the talks Continue reading

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Risk-taking, city-living, document-losing, Baroque-deploying: Italy then and probably also now

the_cardsharps-300x213Four research projects related wholly or partly to Italy have been funded for 2017 and beyond by the Australian Research Council. In an exploration of the cultural history of capitalism Nic Baker (Macquarie) will be analysing how merchants and gamblers took financial risks, rational and irrational, in Renaissance Italy. Nick Eckstein (Sydney) will use the health records of the door-to-door ‘Visitation’ of every poor household in plague-ridden Florence in 1630 to illuminate everyday urban life as experienced by the otherwise voiceless inhabitants. John Gagné (Sydney) will be mapping the social and cultural effects of paper’s introduction to Europe from 1200-1800, focusing on both intended  (censorship, document suppression, prohibitions) and unintended (fires, rot, vermin) loss of documents and its consequences for repression and reinvention. Jaynie Anderson, Shane Carmody and Max Vodola (Melbourne) will track the unstinting efforts of the first Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, James Goold (1812-1886), an Irishman educated in Italy, to use his collection of books and Italian Baroque paintings to convey the intensity of European religious experience to congregations at risk of distraction by the gold discovered in Victoria in 1851.

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