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Major boost for successful Italian Academies project

Posted on 10/06/2010

A research group led by Professor Jane Everson – from the School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Royal Holloway, University of London – has recently been awarded £780,690 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for a four-year continuation of the major research project ‘The Italian Academies 1525-1700: the first intellectual networks of early modern Europe’.

As Principal Investigator, Professor Everson will direct the collaborative project working closely with two co-investigators from the University of Reading and the British Library, and with two post-doctoral Research Assistants at Royal Holloway, Dr Simone Testa and Dr Lorenza Gianfrancesco.

Professor Everson devised the original project, creating an enhanced catalogue and directory of information on the Italian Academies, focusing on the prolific period of 1525 – 1700. Research on the Academies had previously focused on the best known ones, or on their individual members, but this online and integrated catalogue has made it easier for researchers to access information about the lesser known academies; opening up the British Library’s extensive holdings to new research and providing the necessary details for establishing a direct link between a book and an Academy.

Between the early 16th century and the end of the 17th century, there were over 500 Academies operating in Italy alone. These institutions brought together scholars and experts in all branches of the arts and sciences and were places of cultural discussion, inspiring the founding of major institutions across Europe such as The Royal Society and the Académie Française. The Academies also had a more playful aspect, devising amusing names which were often represented visually in punning illustrations and devices.

In this new phase of the project, information and publications for Academies in Rome, Venice, Verona, Mantua, Ferrara, and Sicily will be added to that already compiled for Padua, Bologna, Siena and Naples. The intellectual activities of these Academies will form the subject of the associated research publications. An international conference and two workshops are also planned, together with impact events.

Commenting on the award, Professor Everson said: “We are delighted that the AHRC has confirmed its support for this important collaborative project, which will enable us significantly to extend the benefits of our research to scholars in a very broad range of disciplines. The extension of the Italian Academies project has been widely welcomed internationally by researchers. It is an outstanding achievement for our discipline. The project will further enhance the long-standing collaboration of the College with the British Library, and that of colleagues in Italian with the University of Reading.”



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