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AdI 2016: Speaking Truth to Power from Medieval to Modern Italy
Guest-Editors: Jo Ann Cavallo (Columbia University) and Carlo Lottieri (Università di Siena)
We seek original, unpublished essays exploring instances in which literary characters and historical figures from the medieval to the modern period articulate personal, political, economic, or religious freedoms or otherwise challenge the established power of the state at the risk of their livelihood or their very lives.
In a court trial in which she faced a death sentence for adultery, Boccaccio’s Madonna Filippa wittily defends herself by refuting the legitimacy of a law made without her consent, proclaiming self-ownership of her body and evoking free market principles (Decameron 6.7). She thereby not only successfully regains her freedom but also succeeds in overturning an unjust law. Yet those who defend their rights and liberties against the powers that be have not always been quite so fortunate, especially in real-life scenarios. Just a few generations later, the humanist Poggio Bracciolini penned an account of Jerome of Prague’s pre-execution discourse, which eloquently argued for intellectual freedom as it condemned the abuses of the Roman Curia. As many other critics of the Church also discovered, speaking out against unsavory papal practices could have fatal consequences even if one did not attempt to enunciate alternative metaphysical or scientific views as Giordano Bruno and Galileo later did.
While expressions of the right to personal, intellectual, or religious liberty presented an implicit threat to the political establishment, some authors aimed their comments and criticisms — whether in their own voice or through the invention of literary characters —directly against the machinations of the ruling elite. Well aware of the peril to one’s person in confronting princely power, Castiglione advised courtiers to use salutary deception like a doctor who sweetens the rim of a medicine cup (Libro del cortegiano 4.10). Machiavelli’s disregard for such tactics in his passionate critique of the ottimati in “Ricordi ai Palleschi” (1512) may have contributed to his imprisonment and torture in 1513 as an alleged conspirator planning to overthrow the Medici government.
We encourage essays that address underlying ideological premises or make use of political and social theory in treating imagined or actual expressions of personal or community rights in the face of institutionalized power. Attention to intellectual traditions that valorize human action, such as libertarian philosophy and the Austrian School of Economics, is especially welcome. In contextualizing occurrences in which writers dared to confront power structures across the centuries, we also aim to shed light on similarities and differences in the peninsula’s shifting social, economic, and political configurations. Literary or historical examples to consider might include Alberti's Momus, Tarabotti’s Tirannia paterna, Manzoni’s Storia della colonna infame, Morante’s La storia, and Pasolini’s Scritti corsari.
The deadline for submission is September 30, 2015; the volume will be published in the fall of 2016. All contributions will be refereed. Essays, not to exceed 25 double-spaced pages, can be written in Italian or English, and should conform to the style-sheet criteria set forth by Annali d'Italianistica.
Prospective contributors should address inquiries to both guest editors:
Jo Ann Cavallo, Columbia University: firstname.lastname@example.org
Carlo Lottieri, Università di Siena: email@example.com
AdI 2017: Violence Resistance Tolerance Sacrifice in Italy's Literary and Cultural History
From ancient philosophers — Heraclitus ("All things come into being through strife") — to Petrarch ("Sed sic sine lite atque offensione nil genuit natura parens") and beyond, people have often believed that nothing occurs without violence, struggle, and even war. The Hebrew Bible presents the lex talionis (the eye-for-an-eye code of justice), but also the command not to hate one's brother and to love neighbors (Lev. 19.17-18). The New Testament contains Christ's injunction to love one's enemies. And yet, even in the Gospels one comes across striking statements, "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10.34), and also, "The one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one" (Luke 22.36). Even inanimate nature — the physical locus within which we humans live — often appears in all its frightening aspects almost as often as in its benevolent and nurturing manifestations. Thus, from the beginning of humankind's history to the present time, violence in all its manifestations and human responses to it — resistance, tolerance, compassion, and sacrifice — have accompanied and guided human beings. And yet, human responses to violence include not only additional violence and resistance to it, but also acceptance, tolerance, compassion, and sacrifice. Here are some of the questions which the phenomenon of violence brings up: What is violence, which are its roots, and how can it be assessed? Should humans embrace it, seek to resist to it, control it and overcome it, or should they also allow to be overcome by it in some form of sacrifice?
I am inviting scholars to engage in the analysis of violence, resistance, tolerance, and sacrifice within the context of Italy's literature and culture. Interested scholars are asked to define their approach theoretically and ethically, analyze the roots and consequences of violence — whether it be physical, verbal, mental, or psychological — and point out its consequences. Theoretical essays, drawing from various disciplines, are also most welcome. Thus AdI 2017 seeks to investigate whether any forms of violence are acceptable, or, rather, whether all forms of violence should be condemnable; and whether the only violence that may be somewhat fruitful, although always condemnable, is the violence which is inflicted, not upon others, but upon ourselves and which we are willing to bear for the benefit of others, as Christians believe that Christ did. Unquestionably, violence changes individuals, communities, and societies, which may seek to resist to it, tolerate it, or become victims of it. Confronted by violence, people have even immolated themselves.
Thus additional issues to be pondered are: Has historical violence created enduring literary and cultural expressions leading to peace or only to more violence? Has the representation of violence in literature and art glorified violence, created a vicious circle, or sought to break the virtually unstoppable spiraling of brutal force? What role have compassion and sacrifice played, and what role should they play in a violent world such as ours? Neither religious nor secular literature can claim on the unequivocal condemnation of violence in human lives. And yet, even outside religious literature, Italy's literary culture offers many examples — fictional and historical — of a non-violent life, from Boccaccio's Griselda to Galileo Galilei and Spiro Tozaj/Michele Tallarico in Gianni Amelio's Lamerica. Thus the issue to confront will always be: What is the best way to stop the vicious circle of violence?
Essays are due in the fall of 2016. The volume will appear in the fall of 2017. Please submit your proposal to Dino Cervigni, editor (firstname.lastname@example.org), or either guest editor: Chiara Ferrari (Chiara.Ferrari@csi.cuny.edu) and Olimpia Pelosi (email@example.com).