Access the AHRC-funded Italian Academies project and the British Library Italian Academies database, a collaboration between Royal Holloway University of London, the University of Reading and the British Library.

— — Issue 2 Winter-Summer 2011

The Italian Academies 1525-1700

The first intellectual networks of early modern Europe

 Series 2. Issue 2. Jan-July 2011


 With apologies for the delay in issuing this second number, welcome again to the e-bulletin of the Italian Academies project. We have been extremely busy on the project in recent months, which explains the late appearance of this issue. Our regular team meetings, held once a month, have occupied quite a lot of our time both for planning activities and resolving problems. We hope to cut down on meeting times in future, but regular face to face contact helps us all to keep track of all the different facets of the project and to monitor progress. The Advisory Panel has continued to meet regularly, and to provide extremely valuable advice, comments and ideas for which we in the project team are very grateful. After the disappointment in January when the selected PhD scholar was unable in the event to take up the post, we re-advertised the position and were delighted to be able to appoint Tom Denman, a graduate of Edinburgh and Cambridge. Tom will begin his PhD in October, and will be registered at the University of Reading, working under the supervision of Lisa Sampson.





The database continues to grow apace. The inputting of data for Academies in Rome is now virtually complete, and adds considerably to the volume of information available. The Academies of southern Italy continue to yield a wealth of new data, and those for Sicily are proving of great interest. We have been stimulated in our work on Sicily by the doctoral thesis just being completed at Toulouse on the Academies of the island, which will provide us with some very helpful complementary information for incorporation. Work on the Academies of the northern courts should begin in the autumn, when the PhD project begins. The technical upgrade of the database is now complete. This has allowed us to add an Italian language version of the Main, About and Search pages. Some additional fields have also been incorporated, including one for Academicians’ nicknames, which should prove very useful.


Poster for the first workshop taken from a publication of two Neapolitan Academies.


This has been a busy period for conferences, both hosted by the team and for presentations in other events.

Our first workshop took place on June 27th, in the central London premises of Royal Holloway,

at Bedford Square. This was an extremely satisfactory occasion, with participation from many countries, including the USA, Italy and Israel. The international nature of the delegates underlined the existence of a ‘network’ of scholars working on Academies in Italy. It is our hope that through our project’s workshops and conference, together with similar projects, this network will evolve into an international association capable of promoting research on Italian Academies throughout the world. Full details of the programme and podcasts of all the papers, plenary lecture and round table discussion can be found on our web page: and follow the link to Events. The team would like to thank publicly all those who took part, including those who chaired sessions, as well as the administration of Bedford Square. On what was an extremely hot day, the enthusiasm of participants was especially notable. Nor should we forget the ‘light relief’ provided by the unexpected flood from the radiator, which led us to believe that the ghosts of the Accademia degli Umidi were trying to get in touch!


The first of our conference presentations in this period was given by Lorenza Gianfrancesco at the Renaissance Society of America conference in Montréal, where she spoke on Neapolitan Academies and the questione della lingua. This was followed by a paper at the AATI  conference in Erice, where Lorenza again gave a paper, this time on hagiography and the Academies, a topic of particular relevance to Academies in the south. More recently, the team presented a full panel to the Society for Italian Studies conference in St. Andrews, repeated a fortnight later at the Early Modern Europe conference in Reading. The panel sessions, at each event were introduced by Jane Everson, and papers were given in St. Andrews by Simone Testa, ‘Changing the narrative: Italian academies from Maylender to the Themed Collection Database’;  Lisa Sampson, Theatre in Parma and the Accademia degli Innominati (1574-1608); and Denis Reidy, ‘Illustrating the Italian Academies: an initial survey’ ; two of the panel papers were repeated, in revised versions, in Reading, while Simone Testa’s paper there was focused on ‘Italian Academies and the République des Lettres’.

The database was also made available at St. Andrews, for hands-on experience by delegates.

We are now turning our attention to our international conference in September 2012. We hope to have four plenary speakers, including Professor Lina Bolzoni (Scuola normale, Pisa) and Professor Virginia Cox (New York University). The Call for papers will be circulated in September. This event will be held at the British Library, September 17 and 18. Details will be posted on our web pages, and we look forward to a large attendance.


Public events and impact

The major public event of this period was the launch of the second phase and official signing of the collaboration agreement between the three participating institutions: Royal Holloway, Reading and the British Library. The Principal of Royal Holloway, Professor Paul Layzell, the Pro-Vice Chancellor of Reading, Professor Christine Williams, and the Director of Scholarship and Collections, Caroline Brazier signed the agreement and spoke about their institutions support for, and interest in the project. The launch event was introduced by the chair of the Advisory Panel, Professor Charles Hope, and presentations on discrete aspects of the project were given by members of the team, including a demonstration of the database. Some Academies books were available for viewing. The launch ended with a reception and was altogether a pleasant occasion.

Paul Layzell, Principal of Royal Holloway, Caroline Brazier, Director of Scholarship and Collections of the British Library, and Christine Williams, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) of the University of Reading, signing the formal collaboration agreement in the presence of Jane Everson, Lisa Sampson and Denis Reidy – the project investigators.

The team has been developing its dissemination and impact activities. In June, the Italian Academies project was presented at a Reader event in the BL Growing Knowledge exhibition, to a diverse group of readers with varied interests in the subject. In the same month, the project was the subject of a talk to sixth-formers by Jane Everson in the context of a Taster Day for intending students at Royal Holloway. The small group seemed very interested, which was very encouraging and good feedback was received.

Our dissemination has also been much enhanced by the excellent posters and leaflets which have been printed for the second phase. Our grateful thanks go to the

Design and Print Studio at the University of Reading. The web pages are fully functioning, and are already collecting a considerable number of hits. We are not yet coming up on Google from a search on Italian Academies – so please keep hitting our site:


Research publications linked to the project have appeared, or are currently in press, as follows:

  • Lisa Sampson: ‘Non lasciar così facilmente pubblicar le cose mie‘: manuscript secular drama in sixteenth-century Italy’, in Scribal culture in Italy 1450-1700, ed. Brian Richardson and Filippo de Vivo, Italian Studies special issue, 66 (2011).
  • Lisa Sampson : ‘The dramatic text/ paratext: Barbara Torelli’s Partenia, favola boschereccia (MS, c. 1587)’, Le soglie testuali: apparenze e funzioni del paratesto nel secondo Cinquecento // Textual Thresholds: appearances and functions of paratext in the sixteenth century. Atti della giornata internazionale di studi, Groningen 13 dicembre 2007, ed. by Philiep Bossier and Rolien Scheffer, Manziana (Rome): Vecchiarelli, 2011.
  • Jane Everson, ‘The melting pot of science and belief: studying Vesuvius in seventeenth-century Naples’, Renaissance Studies (forthcoming 2012).
  • Lorenza Gianfrancesco, I libretti teatrali napoletani del primo Seicento, Milan, Mondadori, 2011.
  • Simone Testa, ‘Le accademie senesi e il network intellettuale della prima età moderna in Italia (1525-1700): un progetto online’, introduzione di Jane Everson, Bullettino senese di storia patria, 117 (2010), pp. 613-637.
  • Simone Testa, ‘Studi recenti sulla cultura manoscritta’, in Scribal culture in Italy 1450-1700, ed. Brian Richardson and Filippo de Vivo, Italian Studies special issue, 66 (2011)

Further publications are in progress and will be in press in the next few months.

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