The Italian Academies 1525-1700
The first intellectual networks of early modern Europe
Series 2. Issue 1 Summer-Autumn 2010
Welcome to the new series of the Italian Academies e-bulletin! You will see that our banner heading has changed slightly since the first series, in order to reflect the wider aims of the new phase of the project. We have also added an image from our researches into Academies, of Giambattista Marino, academician and prolific networker.
We are delighted to announce that our bid for a second round of funding to the Arts and Humanities Research Council was successful. We have been awarded the maximum funding available under the Research Grants scheme – £1 million – spread over the four years 2010-2014. Our application received the highest possible grading, which denotes “ an outstanding proposal meeting world-class standards of scholarship, originality, quality and significance.” This was an extremely satisfactory outcome for the project team, and as director of the project I would like to express my gratitude to all who contributed to the formulation of our bid. It took many months, but the effort was clearly worthwhile.
We have also received an outstanding final report on the first phase of the project and an extremely positive set of comments in the report from the Research Council reviewer, whom we sincerely thank.
The new phase of the project began at the beginning of June 2010. This new phase has extended our collaboration to a third institution: the University of Reading joins Royal Holloway University of London and the British Library. As indicated in the last bulletin of series 1, the second phase now running has two main aims: (i) to extend the database to include academies in Venice, Verona, Mantua, Ferrara, Rome, Sicily, and cities in Campania. This will significantly increase the number of Academies surveyed. Publications listed will continue to be those held in the British Library. (ii) to carry out original research on the publications of the Academies, both those listed and those to be surveyed in the new phase. Proposed lines of research include: theatre and court spectacles; politics; censorship; intellectual networking; book history and illustrations; southern Italian culture and the academies.
The Project team and Advisory Panel
We have been fortunate to retain all the previous members of the project team: Professor Everson continues as the director and manager of the project (Principal Investigator); Denis Reidy as co-Investigator; Dr. Testa and Dr. Gianfrancesco as post-doctoral Research Assistants. We are now joined by Dr. Lisa Sampson of the University of Reading, previously a member of the Advisory Panel, as co-Investigator. Dr. Sampson will be responsible, among other activities, for supervising the PhD student who will be attached to the project.
We have also been fortunate to retain, as Chairman of the Advisory Panel, Professor Charles Hope. Dr. Panizza, Dr. Jossa, Chris Michaelides, and Colin Wight have kindly agreed to continue to serve on the panel and are joined by Dr. Filippo de Vivo (Birkbeck College, University of London), Professor John Robertson (Clare College, Cambridge) and Dr. Silvia De Renzi (Open University) and we are delighted to welcome our new members, and to express our gratitude to all members of the Advisory Panel for their invaluable advice and guidance.
The Italian Academies ‘space’
We wish to express our gratitude to the British Library for continuing to provide the team with workstations without which much of the work of the project could not continue. The expansion of the team has been accommodated with little difficulty and we look forward to continuing these fruitful and fundamental working relationships.
Work began immediately to continue the development of the database. Dr. Testa is currently working principally on Academies in Rome, while Dr. Gianfrancesco is researching and inputting information relating to Academies in Sicily and in southern Italy. The wealth of material continues to surprise us – pleasantly – and to confirm our view that the database is serving to bring to the attention of scholars much previously hidden or neglected material.
The new grant contains funding for digitized images, and digitization is thus proceeding in tandem with the identification of Academies’ books and the inputting of the data.
The British Library has also undertaken to upgrade the database as part of its regular development and upgrading of digital resources. This will allow us to add further search pathways not previously available, as well as to include Italian text in the Front, About and Search pages, and, importantly, to count hits to the site. This work should be completed by April 2011.
Research publications are an important part of the new phase of the project. Professor Everson has submitted for consideration an article on the accounts published by Academies (and others) on the eruption of Vesuvius in 1631; Dr. Testa is finalising a monograph publication on Scipione de Castro; Dr. Gianfrancesco has developed her outline proposal for a monograph on the Academies of Naples and is currently working to complete the first chapter; Dr. Sampson is developing her proposal for her monograph on Theatre and Spectacle in the Academies. An article about the Italian Academies project has appeared in the Bulletino senese, co-authored by Professor Everson and Dr. Testa: ‘Le Accademie senesi e il network intellettuale della prima età moderna in Italia (1525-1700). Un progetto online.’ Dr. Gianfrancesco has published an article entitled ‘Accademie, scienze e celebrazioni a Napoli nel primo Seicento’, Quaderni di Symbolon, Anno V, 2010, pp. 177-213.
The first workshop is scheduled for late June 2011 on the subject of ‘Science, learning and censorship in the Academies’. This will be held in the central London premises of Royal Holloway University of London. The workshop will open with a keynote lecture by Professor Paula Findlen of Stanford University, and conclude with a Round Table chaired by Professor Brian Richardson of the University of Leeds. A good number of paper proposals has been received, and it promises to be a stimulating event.
Almost immediately afterwards the team will travel north to St. Andrews to present the project and our current research on the Academies to the biennial conference of the Society for Italian Studies. This will be followed in mid-July by a panel presentation in Reading to the Reading Conference in Early Modern Studies, which will allow us to reach out in particular to historians.
Dr. Gianfrancesco will present a paper on Neapolitan Academies to the conference of the Renaissance Society of America in Montreal in March, and a second paper to an international conference at Erice in May. Both of these are further occasions for publicising the project and the database.
The new phase of the project will once again be supported by a collaborative agreement between the three participating institutions: Royal Holloway University of London, the British Library and the University of Reading. This has involved a complex series of negotiations, and we would like to express our gratitude to colleagues in the Research offices of Royal Holloway and Reading, and to the legal department at the British Library for their detailed work in preparing this agreement. We are planning a public event to mark the signing of the new agreement, and the launch of phase 2 of the Academies project.
Impact and public outreach
With the beginning of the new phase of the Italian Academies project we are developing new promotional materials and a new website. Leaflets and posters are being printed at Reading and will shortly be available for distribution. We have purchased our own url, and the web pages are currently being populated. Keep an eye on: http://www.italianacademies.org The website should be ready to be launched by April and will then contain all the relevant information about our project, activities and people involved, as well as copies of this e-bulletin and links to back copies, useful sites etc. In the meantime the former website is still accessible at: http://www.rhul.ac.uk/modern-languages/research/italian-academies/ and there is also a link to this from the home page of the Society for Italian Studies http://www.sis.ac.uk/cgi-bin/safeperl/sisinfo/sistine.pl
Please circulate this bulletin to any interested colleagues. We are happy to add to our circulation list and look forward also to your comments.
Jane E.Everson, Project Director