Workshop | Petrarchism: Competing Models for Early Modern Community Building (1400-1700)
Organised by Bernhard Huss (Freie Universität Berlin/EXC 2020) and Roland Béhar (École Normale Supérieure Paris), Project Petrarchan Worlds, Research Area 1: "Competing Communities".
In the wake of Francesco Petrarch's self-stylisation as a point of reference for the formation of literary, philosophical and philological groups, communities of intellectuals emerge, first in Italy, then throughout Europe, that refer to certain aspects of Petrarch's authorial figure and parts of his Italian and Latin oeuvre. Petrarch serves as a model for pre-modern literary, aesthetic, philosophical, philological, historical and artistic concepts and projects.
In order to continue the study already started in several workshops of the project "Petrarchan Worlds" to explore the role of Petrarch in the formation of different forms and forums of community building (see bibliography below), our workshop aims at examining various modes of international, cross-genre, cross-linguistic and cross-media community-building that Petrarch's figura auctoris and his texts provoked in the pre-modern period.
On the one hand, different linguistically based cultural areas will be considered separately (Italian, French, Spanish, German, English, Dutch, neo-Latin Petrarchism), but on the other hand, their interactions and interdependencies will be jointly analysed and discussed. The focus of interest will initially be on intellectual groupings relating to Petrarch's lyric poetry (Canzoniere) and its reflection in narrative terzina poetry (Trionfi). But his Latin poetry (including the Eclogues and Petrarch's verse epistles) as well as prose texts such as Petrarch's collections of letters are also to be taken into consideration, not least because it is precisely through his Latin texts that a bridge can be built from poetry to the role of Petrarch as a proponent of a moral-philosophical, Christian stoicism, which has attained special significance for the non-Romanic cultural area north of the Alps.
The various options of cultural self-definition and self-identification offered by Petrarchism play a fundamental role for community-building not only in literary production, but also in moral-
philosophical reflection and humanistic exegesis, which often take place in precise institutional framings. The fenomenon of the formation of communities can be observed both from a sociological perspective - especially in courts and academic circles - and from the perspective of book history - when the book itself is understood as a place of the virtual community, be it because collective anthologies of poetry are created (think e.g. of the series of Rime diverse, which Giolito published in Venice from 1545), or because a group reflects itself in manifestos against or for the imitation of Petrarch - think of the Petrarch commentaries or the Caro-Castelvetro polemic. At this point arise questions that regard not only the stylization of specific authorial figures of Petrarch, but also that of his most important imitators, who distinguish themselves as Petrarchists and appear to their readers’ community as almost equal heirs to the poet of Laura. In this sense, the discourses opposed to Petrarchism should also be considered, starting with the anti-Petrarchism of a Niccolò Franco, whose Il Petrarchista helped more to develop the consciousness of Petrarchism as a community than someof its apologies: resistance to Petrarchism as a force that fosters Petrarchism is an important dimension in the formation of agonal discourses produced by particular groups.
The phenomenon of Petrarchism thus opens up a discursive space in which models other than Petrarch himself are accepted, but only to the extent that, despite their diversity, they also prove to be faithful to the original model: this tension increases over time, and the exhaustion of imitative recourses will ultimately mean the gradual end of Petrarchism in the course of the 17th century.
At the intersection of these problems, the question also arises as to how far Petrarchism promotes the development of 'national' literary canons, also through the more or less conscious competition between languages. So how is Petrarch 'nationalized' outside of Italy? Can an appropriation that takes place by leaping across language borders have a foundational dimension for literature and the development of political identities? What role does the translation from Tuscan into other languages play against the background of the Questione della lingua? And what does the production of Petrarchistic texts in Latin – the 'lingua franca' – mean for the 'international' spread of Petrarchism?
Another central point is the reception, in many countries, of Petrarchan topoi and themes in the visual arts in various mediatic configurations. The first question to ask here concerns the specific relations of Petrarchistic texts on the one side and visual artefacts on the other. Then it is of interest how mediatic adaptations transform formal, thematic and 'ideological' elements of the Petrarchan code, especially in view of the cultural divergences of the respective 'national' spaces and languages outlined above. Which 'Petrarchan communities' emerge here, and what is their respective institutional framework?
The workshop's aim is thus to analyse the phenomenon of Petrarchism in a broad sense of a multifaceted international, interlinguistic, intergeneric and, by including the question of Petrarchism in the visual arts, also intermedial dynamics, always under the specific aspect of the formation of temporary cultural communities.
Time & Location
Nov 09, 2023 - Nov 10, 2023
Freie Universität Berlin
Room L 115