Bando per saggio: “Speaking Truth to Power in Medieval and Early Modern Italy”.

Riceviamo e volentieri pubblichiamo il bando che la rivista accademica Annali d’Italianistica, con base presso l’università del North Carolina, ha indetto per la raccolta e pubblicazione di saggi in tema di rapporto tra libertà individuale e potere costituito nell’Italia d’epoca medievale e moderna fino all’unificazione.

I saggi potranno essere inviati sia in lingua inglese che italiana agli indirizzi in calce all’annuncio di bando, entro la data del 30 settembre 2016.

Il volume sarà curato dalla Prof.ssa Jo Ann Cavallo, docente presso il Dipartimento d’Italianistica della Columbia University (N.Y.), e da Carla M. Bregman, Prof.ssa Associata di Letteratura Italiana.



Call for Papers

“Speaking Truth to Power in Medieval and Early Modern Italy”

Annali d’Italianistica (2017)

We seek original, unpublished essays exploring instances in which literary characters and historical figures from the medieval and early modern period articulate personal, political,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 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 (Description by Poggio the Florentine of the Death and Punishment of Jerome of Prague). 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 (Book of the Courtier 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 under the false accusation of conspiracy to overthrow the new Medici government.

The aim of this project is not only to examine cases in which individuals made sacrifices for liberty in medieval and early modern Italy, but also to contextualize these occurrences, thereby exploring similarities and differences in the varied social, economic, and political environments of the peninsula prior to the emergence of Italy as a nation state with the Unification of 1861.

We welcome essays that address underlying ideological premises or make use of political and social theory in treating imagined or actual expressions of individual rights in the face of institutionalized power. Attention to intellectual traditions that valorize the individual, such as libertarian theory and the Austrian School of economics, is especially encouraged. Literary or historical examples to consider might include L.B. Alberti’s Momus, Il Ruzante’s comedies, Tasso’s prison letters, the influence of Renaissance writings on Enlightenment thinkers, and Jacob Burckhardt’s celebration of Renaissance individualism in light of his concern over the repressive collectivism of his time.

Essays should be submitted to the guest editors electronically. The deadline for submission is September 30, 2016; the volume will be published in the fall of 2017. 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. See “Norms for Contributors” at: For contributions in Italian, see:

All contributions will be evaluated by at least two outside readers, and an invitation by the guest editors does not guarantee an essay’s publication in the volume.

Prospective contributors should address all inquiries to both guest editors:

– Jo Ann Cavallo (Professor of Italian, Columbia University) at
– Carla M. Bregman (Associate Editor for Italian Literature, The Literary Encyclopedia) at