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Introduction

erstellt von Kulawik Veröffentlicht 31.07.2018 11:42, zuletzt verändert: 31.07.2018 11:42
by Jane E. Everson and Lisa Sampson

Maylender’s monumental undertaking provided a stimulus and factual basis for the further study of academies. To date, these have tended, for obvious practical reasons, to focus on individual academies, or else on discrete cities and regions. Especially from the later twentieth century, a number of the best-known academies — some of which are still in existence or have been revived under different names — have attracted important critical studies, […].

 

Even fairly recent sympathetic and multi-dimensional treatments of academies which have taken account of their wide-ranging activities across the arts and sciences, such as that of Amedeo Quondam, were still largely obliged to draw on the data collected by Maylender, and have also still tended to privilege discussion of the larger and better known academies.

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The essays presented here arise from an international conference held at the British Library in September 2012, in association with the Italian Academies Project.

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Everson 2-3: The Italian Academies Database (IAD), created as part of the Italian Academies project, in particular demonstrates how uniquely designed digital resources can considerably enhance research in this field and reshape existing knowledge. This particular database, which is freely accessible as one of the Themed Collection Databases of the British Library, currently allows the user to research academies in twenty-three Italian cities across the peninsula from multiple entry points.

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It should, nonetheless, be stressed that, notwithstanding the broad range of the essays, this volume does not pretend to provide a definitive study of the Italian academies. (Everson 3)

[…] what is an academy? The very name itself is subject to varying interpretations and fluid usage according to the historical period and to the aims proposed. Although accademia is the name most commonly found for the groupings of intellectuals we are dealing with, with self-conscious allusions to the Platonic ideal and model, such institutions are also defined as congrega, compagnia and società(sodalitas). While some scholars have sought to distinguish these bodies and their functions according to the designation these institutions gave themselves, this is an uncertain basis for proceeding. (Everson 3)

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An academy is understood in this volume — as for the Italian Academies project from which it arises — as a kind of society that termed itself thus and was structured around defined objectives and activities and, increasingly, formally constituted with membership rules, lists of members, and statutes. (Everson 4)

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Nonetheless this definition has allowed us to distinguish the sixteenth-century academies and their aims and activities from the rather more loosely formed fifteenth-century groups, typically headed by a leading humanist, to which the name of academy is sometimes applied — the so-called Accademia Platonica or Ficiniana in Florence (formed round Marsilio Ficino), the Pontaniana in Naples (formed round Giovanni Pontano) and the group based around Pomponio Leto in Rome. (Everson 4)

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Too frequently, as noted, in the recent history of scholarship on the academies, scholars have focused on just one academy or at best just one city. (Everson 5) […] It also obscures the fundamental aspect of social networking, which has become one of the key discoveries of the Italian Academies project, and the European-wide dimensions. (Everson 5)

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This volume is organized around four main themes which are represented by the four sections. These cover how academies relate to the political environment; their religious interests and relations with religious institutions within Counter-Reformation culture; their membership and networks; and the types and effects of their literary and artistic experimentation. (Everson 5-6)

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Moroncini’s essay is devoted to the Accademia della Virtù, an unusual and little-studied academy, considered here for its links into the movement for evangelical reform in Rome and for the potential heterodoxy of some of its members. It is suggested that the light-hearted genres of carnival and burlesque poetry by members of the academy were used to convey veiled, serious discussion of religious and reform ideas, and criticism of the Church; a skilful, indeed necessary modus operandi given the location of the academy in Papal Rome. The study of the Accademia della Virtù therefore raises interesting questions about the relationship of academies to established Church authorities and doctrines, and, as will be seen below in Chiummo’s essay on the Fiorentina, as focolari for dissent, especially in the years before the debates at the Council of Trent. (Everson 9)

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What one struggles to glean, though, from the alphabetically listed entries in this source is how coeval academies compared in their make-up, or intersected with each other. These questions can now be visualized in the IAD, which allows the user to navigate between these interlinked societies. (Everson 10)

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Lukehart’s essay brings a further dimension to the discussion on membership by examining the participation of artists in the life of academies (see also Chiummo). This essay’s focus is on the Accademia di San Luca, an academy specifically formed around artists, to promote their status, role and education in late sixteenth-century Rome. The study expands the work done for Lukehart’s project based at the National Gallery of Washington, which involves the close study of the archives relating to the academy presented in a dedicated database. (Everson 11-12)

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As a young man in Rome, academy membership provided Ruscelli with an entrée into the literary world, where in the company of established authors and potential patrons he could begin to make an impact. The analysis of Ruscelli’s career in the various academies of which he in due course became a member reveals the attractions of the idea of the academy at this relatively early stage, as a way of establishing and maintaining forums and wider networks for social and literary interaction. It also reveals the difficulties of founding an academy, and indeed the temptations to invent fictitious academies in order to keep up with cultural and social fashions. Ruscelli stands as an emblematic figure, however, in another sense too, exemplifying the broad range of interests present in the academies already by the mid-sixteenth century, with debates covering not just literature and the role of the vernacular, which Ruscelli enthusiastically promoted, but also the sciences. (Everson 13)

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In conclusion, this collection of essays is designed as a contribution and stimulus to the work in progress on the Italian academies. Rather than attempting to provide a neatly defined and comprehensive coverage of this phenomenon, the volume suggests the need to recognize the diversity and hybridity of these often elusive institutions as well as their similarities. (Everson 15-16)