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Research and the Database

The compilation of the database demands wide-ranging research in a number of fields, in order to identify members, publications, activities, academy books and all those individuals and institutions associated with these – censors, illustrators, and printers. This extensive research also provides a stimulus to further research, constantly provoking new questions and suggestions for further enquiry. Among the many topics to which attention has been drawn, our current research is focused on providing answers to the following questions:
  1. What comparisons and contrasts can be drawn between academies operating in university towns and those in aristocratic and courtly milieux?
  2. What are the particular characteristics of academies in southern Italy under Spanish domination?
  3. What is the place of Academies in counter-reformation culture? Did the Academies play a role in protecting ‘sensitive’ texts and authors ‘at risk’ from the censors?
  4. What role did academies play in the development of secular and scientific culture in the seventeenth century? How did they contribute to the development of international intellectual networks?
  5. What were the links of individual academies to the printing and publishing trades? What types of publications did individual academies produce and why? How did academies commission illustrations for the Academy and for publications?
  6. Who were the members of academies? Were academies predominantly secretive or open, conservative or radical? Were Academies especially the creation of young people? How open were the academies to women as members, authors and dedicatees?
Some if not all of these questions will be addressed in the publications produced for the end of the project1. They are also being addressed, and amplified, in the course of the workshops and conference. The first one-day workshop, held in June 2011, centred on science and censorship, and included discussion of academies in peripheral regions such as Friuli, and specifically Jewish Academies, as well as studies on individual academicians and/or aspects of the Academies of Siena, and Sicily. The second workshop held in summer 2013 and took literature, theatre and the arts as its main focus. In September 2012 an international conference at the British Library focused on four main themes – Venice, Florence, Women, Naples and the South, and included a large and diverse range of panel papers. For the programmes of all three events and podcasts of contributions, see www.italianacademies.org.



1 These will include studies on Theatre and Spectacle 1525-1700; The Neapolitan Academies 1530-1700; and The Italian Academies as the first modern intellectual networks; as well as journal articles on censorship, book illustration, scientific printing/publishing, the relationship of Academies to the courts, universities, and theatre, and the Academies as the first république des lettres.

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