Of Coffee, Cakes, and an Obligatory Saint

Catherine Kovesi  University of Melbourne

Bassrelief of San Martino on the Oratory of the Scuola of San Martino

Bassrelief of San Martino on the Oratory of the Scuola of San Martino

Throughout most of the westernised world we have just celebrated the festival of Halloween. Each year many protest the intrusion of what they see as an Americanised festival into their indigenous traditions, and it did look a little anachronistic here in Venice to see Halloween paraphernalia in many shop windows. But now, barely a fortnight later, the windows are full of paraphernalia for a different and delightful festival here in the city, one with many similarities to Halloween in the ways in which it is celebrated by the children of Venice, but which is completely enmeshed in Venetian tradition. This is the Feast of San Martino, celebrated on 11 November for at least three centuries now.

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Screening of Terramatta. Il novecento italiano di Vincenzo Rabito analfabeta siciliano

Terramatta poster

Copies of the book and the DVD will be on sale at the conference and are now available in Australia here.

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RISM: Peter Howard (September 2)


and the Italian Cultural Institute  in Melbourne

have great pleasure in inviting you to a talk on

Charting Cultural Transformation through Renaissance Preaching


A/Prof Peter Howard (Monash University)

Monday 2 September at 6pm

Italian Cultural Institute,  233 Domain Road, South Yarra

How did the artists of the Sistine Chapel wall frescoes develop and execute a complex programme in an amazingly short period of time? How do we explain the configuration of public space in early Renaissance Italy? Who authorized the magnificent display that characterizes Renaissance Florence? These are just some of the questions on which light is shed if an expansive role is assigned to preaching in late medieval and early renaissance Italy. This argument is a reversal of the image of the mendicant “penitential preachers” that Burckhardt constructed a century and a half ago but that still prevails, even among some scholars. Most commonly, the historiography identifies the humanists as the innovators of the day and as the disseminators of a renewed classical culture. This can be overemphasized. I argue that evidence suggests that a traditional medium such as the sermon was just as, if not more, responsible for a new historical and social vocabulary which equipped Florentines in particular to meet the demands of a rapidly changing society.

For catering purposes please book at Tel. 03 – 9866 5931

For more information on RISM please contact Dr Patrizia Sambuco (Monash University).

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