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Italian Literature in the Renaissance – Petrarch’s Triumphs and Marino’s La Galeria: two case-studies on the relationships between Literature and Visual Arts


Wednesday, 13 November 2019 to Thursday, 28 May 2020
Total hours: 40
Hours of lectures: 40

Examination procedure

  • Report or seminar


No prerequisites are required.

This course has been designed for PhD candidates, but is open also to undergraduate students.



The course – strictly connected with the undergraduate course – aims to investigate how and why the question of the relationship between word and image, literary writing and visual experiences, occupies a main position in the history of culture, especially during the Renaissance period. This age was actually characterized by a cultural syncretism whose modalities of perception, knowledge and creation were founded on the plurality and transversality of its codes. The relevance of the images is very high when they are combined with the text in an illustrated book, but also when we have a strong relationship between the verbal code and the iconic code as in the case of the ecphrastic literature.

In relation to this research goal, the lessons will pay attention to two early modern Works, which extended their influence beyond the bounds of literature: Petrarch’s Triumphs and Marino’s La Galeria. Both texts depended on and, at the same time, produced a rich and extensive iconographical tradition which took on a life of its own.

By reading Petrarch’s Triumphs, we will also focus on some specific issues as, for example, the unfinished dimension of the text, the meaning of its narrative structure (in the light of Dante Commedia and Boccaccio Amorosa visione), and first of all its relationships with Rerum vulgarium fragmenta as far as the hard attempt to harmonize and resolve Petrarch’s intellectual and spiritual conflicts is concerned.

The lessons about La Galeria will specifically face the textual and iconographical sources of Marino’s invention, its relationships with other echprastic texts of the same author (e.g. Dicerie sacre, La Lira and Ritratto del Serenissimo Don Carlo Emanuello), and the rhetorical and stylistic tools through which Marino tried to put his poems “before the eyes” of the reader.


Educational goals:

The course aims to offer a complete critical reading of Petrarch’s Triumphi and an analysis of the main historical, philological and cultural questions concerning Marino’s Works about the visual Arts. The focus on these transdisciplinary cultural experiences will allow students to take a fresh look at the modalities and instruments of literary, philological and historical analysis. By not limiting our research to isolated sectors, we will be able to address cultural phenomena in which word and image are closely allied and support one another, and through their interactions lead to reciprocal transformations.

Bibliographical references

Detailed bibliographical references will be given during the seminar. For an introduction to the main questions: E. Russo, Marino, Salerno editrice, Roma, 2008; Petrarch. A Critical Guide to the Complete Works, ed. by V. Kirkham, A. Maggi, Chicago UP, Chicago, 2009; Lessico critico petrarchesco, a cura di R. Brovia e L. Marcozzi, Carocci, Roma, 2016; Letteratura e arti visive nel Rinascimento, a cura di G. Genovese e A. Torre, Carocci, Roma, 2019, (forthcoming).