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About Italian Academies

The British Library holds some of the finest collections outside Italy of publications produced by Italian Academies and their members. Much of this material is catalogued in ways which have not permitted easy access by scholars working on a particular Academy or on Academies in general. The creation of a Themed Collection of data relating to Academies aims to open up the Library’s holdings to new research on the Italian learned Academies of the late Renaissance and early modern periods and their relationship to book production, printing and publishing in this period.

What was an Academy?

There were about six hundred Academies in Italy in this period. Academies raise interesting questions about early modern Europe. For example, what was the relationship between the Academies and the Universities? Did women have a role within Academies, and if so what? What was the role of printers? How many foreigners took part in the life and publications of Italian Academies? Alongside their serious debates, Academies had a more playful aspect, which is reflected in the names and devices of the Academies and their members.

Subjects

The interests of the Academies covered literature, culture and the sciences and ranged over many subjects: from astronomy to theatre, from poetry to politics, from linguistics to music, and the figurative arts. Academies published in all these and many other fields. To search for a particular subject or a particular author use the keyword Quick Search. To search for a particular title or part of title use the Advance Search Browse Indexes.

People

Membership included pioneering scientists, literary polemicists, political thinkers, and representatives of all social classes. Members of Academies adopted curious and amusing nicknames and pseudonyms. To search for an individual by name, nickname or pseudonym use the keyword Quick Search. To search for a group or type use the Advance Search Browse Indexes.

Images and Devices

Academies and their members are frequently represented in their publications in punning illustrations, emblems and devices. Serious portraits of academicians are also often included. The illustrations are often linked to mottoes.To search for emblems, mottoes, book illustrations, engravers and artists as a category use the Advance Search Browse Indexes. To search for a particular detail or individual use the keyword Quick Search.

For details on how to use the database, please consult the Search Tips page.

For a full introduction, see:

1. The Italian Academies - Definitions and Interests

2. The Genesis of the Project and Database

3. Historical and Research Background

4. Illustrations

5. Research Methods

6. Research and the Database

7. The Themed Collection Database - Design

8. Using the Database

9. General Bibliography

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