Maria Pia Paoli – From a civic tradition to a European intellectual network: Florentine academies (16th-18th centuries)



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.

Maria Pia Paoli From a civic tradition to a European intellectual network: Florentine academies (16th-18th centuries)

Florentine society was early involved in free cultural circles, variously named as ‘compagnie’ or ‘accademie’. The turning point of their history took place at the time of duke Cosimo I Medici who in 1541 transformed ‘Accademia degli Umidi’ in ‘Accademia fiorentina’, the first italian academy with an official name borrowed from her birth place. The subject has been deeply explored by some modern scholars as Michel Plaisance. Since 1541, nevertheless, almost other 100 academies were founded in Florence. Their names were again nicknames; their activity has yet to be explored thank to the several archive’s and library’s local sources. The hundred of records we have consulted contain important information about social, cultural and political life in the medicean Florence and, more and more going trough the XVII-XVIII centuries, also in the European Repubblica delle lettere.



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