Alison Smith – Women and the Accademia Filarmonica of Verona



Event Date: 17 – 18 September 2011
British Library Conference Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB

The Italian Academies 1525–1700 Project presents:


This major international conference is being hosted as part of the AHRC funded research project The Italian Academies 1525-1700: the first intellectual networks of early modern Europe.

Academies represent a vital and characteristic dimension of early modern culture.
There were ca. 600 Academies in Italy in the period 1525-1700. Frequently international in membership, and in correspondence with scholars across Europe, they were fundamental to the development of the intellectual networks later defined as the ‘République des Lettres’, and to the dissemination of ideas in early modern Europe. Their membership included pioneering scientists, writers, artists, political thinkers, and representatives of both sexes and all social classes. The interests of the Academies ranged from the humanities, to the figurative and performance arts, natural sciences and medicine; many were interdisciplinary in their outlook and activities.

However, the social and cultural phenomenon of the Italian Academies has hitherto attracted relatively little research due in part to the wide range of their interests and difficulties in accessing relevant information.

The conference aims to explore research questions raised by the activities of Academies in this period.

Alison Smith (Wagner College) – Women and the Accademia Filarmonica of Verona

The Accademia Filarmonica, the largest, and most successful academy in Verona in the sixteenth century, regularly invited women to many of its musical gatherings, especially during the period (1565-1583) when the academy’s headquarters were located in the palace and famous gardens of the Giusti family.  Much of the evidence for this is contained in the surviving notebooks in which members recorded occasions when academy rules were broken, frequently by members permitting women to do things that they shouldn’t. This paper will discuss these notebooks, along with other surviving documentary evidence, in order to examine the academy members’ ideas about gender and sociability as well as to reconstruct the institution’s evolving relationship with local noble families and Venetian authorities.



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