Emanuela Bufacchi – Ecclesiastical censorship and the Academy of Incogniti



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.

Emanuela BufacchiEcclesiastical censorship and the Academy of Incogniti

The action and the influence of the ecclesiastic censorship on the literary writings published by the Incogniti were pervasive: Giovanni Francesco Loredano’s Le Novelle amorese; Girolamo Brusoni’s Il carrozzino alla moda e La gondola a tre remi, Antonio Santacroce’s La segreteria d’Apollo, Ferrante Pallavicino’s “opera omnia” were only some of the works put on the Index.

The examination of the censorship and of judgment of the censors (today preserved in the Archive of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) could show remarkable elements. They are not mechanics application of diffused stereotypes but rather important clues to understand what subject matter or descriptions were held dangerous and why. For example, the investigation on the censorship to the Ferrante Pallavicino’s writings (Pudicitia schernita e Rete di vulcano, ACDF, Index, Protocolli EE (II.27, cc. 77-81) shows that the censors condemned some passages as contrary to the “bonos mores” because those writings try to justify the principles of the libertine naturalism. More dangerous for the doctrine of the catholic faith, Ferrante Pallavicino’s writings attempt, in name of the precepts of the Nature, to deny the sacrament of the marriage, of which the “Council of Trent” had confirmed the character monogamous and indissoluble.

The comparison among the trademarks of the censorship in different writings produced by the “Academy of Incogniti” will offer important elements to define the peculiarity of the control practiced from the Church on the Venetian culture and society of the XVII century; on the other hand it offers a strategic point of view to analyze the subject matter and the meaning of the literary texts written by the Incogniti.



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