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Themed Collection Database


Contents and rationale of selection

There were at least 800 Academies operating in Italy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, disseminated over the whole peninsula and located in both major centres and in smaller towns and cities. For the first phase of the database development (completed in summer 2009), we selected four centres: Bologna, Naples, Siena and Padua for a number of reasons:
  • All had a considerable number of Academies operating in the period and with a range of interests covering the sciences and medicine, music and the arts as well as literature and philosophy.
  • Some research has been done on individual Academies in these centres, notably Siena and Padua, but they had not been as frequently studied as those in Florence, Rome and Venice.
  • Siena was the home of the earliest formally constituted Academies (the Intronati and the Rozzi, both founded in the 1520s).
  • According to the initial census we took, from Maylender, the number of Academies operating in each city was more or less the same (circa 50).
In the current, second phase (2010 ff) the database is being expanded and extended to include data for Rome, Venice, Verona, Mantua, Ferrara, Sicily and southern Italian cities such as Avellino. These centres were selected again for a number of important criteria including:
  • Rome and Venice had very large numbers of academies (ca 200 each), so adding these academies significantly extends the total number surveyed. Both Rome and Venice developed major encyclopedic projects.
  • Rome is particularly significant for the study of censorship and the relationship between cultural institutions, politics and scientific enquiry and experimentalism.
  • Verona, Mantua and Ferrara represent small court-based cultures, in which to study the relationship of academies to court structures and patronage.
  • Sicily and the south outside Naples are relatively under-researched areas in the study of the literary culture of early modern Italy; incorporating academies in these locations allows for a comparison with the capital – Naples – from many points of view: political, social, intellectual and for printing history.

Design of the database

The database lists information relating to members of academies, the cultural interests and activities of Academies, works published by academicians, under the auspices of Academies, and dedicated to/by members of academies. It also includes nicknames and pseudonyms of members, the emblems and mottoes of both academies and members where used - adding details not currently contained systematically in the British Library catalogues. The database is searchable by a large number of keywords/fields (29), permitting the researcher to begin their research from a wide variety of starting points. Keywords include:
  • Author
  • Title of volume and, in the case of miscellanies, of all the individual items and authors therein
  • Dedicatee(s)
  • Printer
  • Place of publication and date of publication
  • Name of academy
  • Emblems – by keyword
  • Mottoes – by word (s)
  • Pseudonyms and Nicknames
  • Illustrations and illustrators
  • Censors’ names and their imprimatur/approval
  • Languages represented in the publication
  • Nationality; for Italian individuals, city of origin.
  • Gender
  • There is also, importantly, a Notes field, in which we record information resulting from our research and of interest to the researcher, such as other copies held elsewhere, recent studies, or items related to the entry.
The database is designed additionally, via keywords and the interconnected information of the database entries, to permit study of particular features of the book trade and its relationship to the Academies such as:
  • range of subject matter of books connected with a particular Academy – by recording a subject field for each book item
  • language(s) of publication
  • the emblems, mottoes, devices and names of individual Academicians
  • illustrations in these books – from both technical and aesthetic perspectives
  • printing techniques and developments associated with publishing by the Academies
  • readership, sponsorship and dedications of such books
  • cultural exchange – the export of Academies’ books, the wider, European dimension of the Academies and their books.
and stimulate further research on:
  • membership of the academies, their composition, history, patrons etc.
  • the aims and objectives of these Academies and how they changed over time
  • the debates conducted and published by the Academies.


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