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Telling with Images. Narrative Strategies in Illustrated Sixteenth-century Editions


Monday, 4 November 2019 to Tuesday, 5 May 2020
Total hours: 40
Hours of lectures: 40

Examination procedure

  • Report or seminar


The class is open to all PhD students and will have a strong interdisciplinary character.


Starting from an overview of the main features of sixteenth-centuryeditions, the course shall examine the influence of typography on both the definition and the reception of some capital Renaissance literary works in the early age of print.

The sixteenth-century book will be studied as a technological and hermeneutic tool, aimed not only at making certain literary genres recognizable through a specific packaging, but also at orienting the reception of literary works. 

A first part of the class shall be devoted to the role played by the so-called polygraphs within the main Venetian typographic workshops. In particular, the work of writers such as Lodovico Dolce, Girolamo Ruscelli, Lodovico Domenichi and Anton Francesco Doni shall be examined. The course will look closely at the way these editorial collaborators worked, with special attention to their close cooperation with the protagonists of the Venetian publishing world: Giolito, Valgrisi, Scoto, Marcolini. As a paradigmatic example, the association between Doni and the publisher Francesco Marcolini will be explored in detail, with regard to the illustrated editions resulting from an ambitious common publishing project (ZuccaMoral FilosofiaMondi-Inferni, and Marmi).

The second part of the class will focus on the function that verbal and iconographic paratexts assumed in the construction of editions of more or less known Renaissance narrative poems, ranging from the Boiardo’s Inamoramento de Orlandoto Pulci’s Morgante, from the Furiosoto the Liberata, from Francesco Cieco’s Mambrianoto Vincenzo Brusantini’s Angelica innamorata. The main goal will be to shed light on two interrelated dimensions: first, the relationship between the verses and the engravings that accompanied the illustrated editions of these poems; second, the importance of the imitation of visuality in the narrative and descriptive methods deployed in these works.

Drawing on the recent results in the field of visual studies, the course aims to highlight the pivotal nexus that links visuality and diegesis in narrative poetry during the Renaissance, without neglecting the sixteenth-century theoretical debate on chivalric poem.

Seminars by Italian and foreign scholars, experts of book history, history of book illustrations and visual culture are planned.


Educational goals:

The class is aimed at providing knowledge related to: 1. the early age of print and the features of illustrated editions of literary works; 2. Renaissance literature, with special regard to chivalric poetry; 3. the interpretative approaches offered by visual studies.

Bibliographical references

Bolzoni L. (ed. by), Il ‘Furioso’ nello specchio delle immagini, Roma, Treccani, 2014; 

Bolzoni L. (ed. by), Galassia AriostoIl modello editoriale dell’Orlando furioso dal libro illustrato al web, Roma, Donzelli, 2017; 

Bolzoni L., Pezzini S., Rizzarelli G. (ed. by), «Tra mille carte vive ancora»: ricezione del Furioso tra immagini e parole, Lucca, Pacini Fazzi, 2010;

Hempfer C., Letture discrepanti. La ricezione dell’Orlando Furioso nel Cinquecento: lo studio della ricezione storica come euristica dell’interpretazione, Modena, F. C. Panini, 1987; 

Javitch D., Ariosto classico. La canonizzazione dell’Orlando furioso,Milano, B. Mondadori, 1999;

Id., Saggi sull’Ariosto e la composizione dell’Orlando furioso, Lucca, Pacini Fazzi, 2012; 

M. Cometa, La scrittura delle immagini: letteratura e cultura visuale, Milano, Raffaello Cortina, 2012; 

M. Rossi e D. Caracciolo (ed. by), Le sorti di Orlando: illustrazioni e riscritture del Furioso, Lucca, Pacini Fazzi, 2014; 

Michell W.J.T., Pictorial turn: saggi di cultura visuale; ed. by M. Cometa, Palermo, Duepunti, [2008]; 

Nuovo A. - Coppens C., I Giolito e la stampa nell'Italia del 16. secolo, Genève, Librairie Droz, 2005;

Nuovo A., Il commercio librario nell’Italia del Rinascimento, Milano, Franco Angeli, 2003;

Praloran M.– M. Tizi, Narrare in ottave: metrica e stile dell’Innamorato, Pisa, Nistri-Lischi, 1988; 

Praloran M., Tempo e azione nell’«Orlando Furioso», Firenze, Olschki, 1999; 

Id., Il racconto per immagini nella tradizione cavalleresca, in Figura e racconto: narrazione letteraria e narrazione figurativa inItalia dall’Antichità al primo Rinascimento, Firenze, SISMEL Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2009, pp. 193-232; 

Rizzarelli G., «Se le parole si potessero scorgere». I Mondi di Doni tra Italia e Francia, Manziana, Vecchiarelli, 2007;

Ead., I Marmi di Anton Francesco Doni: la storia, i generi e le arti, Firenze, Olschki, 2012;

Trovato P., Con ogni diligenza corretto: la stampa e le revisioni editoriali dei testi letterari italiani, 1470-1570,Bologna, Il Mulino, 1991; 

Zappella G., Il libro antico a stampa: struttura, tecniche, tipologie, evoluzione, 2 voll., Milano, Bibliografica, 2001-2004; 

Ead., Reimpieghi, copie, imitazioni, Manziana, Vecchiarelli, 2013.

Further references will be provided during the class.