Thanks to a 2016 award from the Warwick-Newberry Transatlantic Fellowship, the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, and the Humanities Research Centre, I was able to travel to the Newberry Library in Chicago to undertake important research for my current project, “A Good Offence,” which traces the development of ideas concerning the social and moral roles of poetry in sixteenth-century Italy.
The Newberry’s Wing collection contains a sizeable donation bequeathed by Bernard Weinberg, the author of a foundational two-volume monograph on literary criticism in the Italian Renaissance. This collection contained not only poetic and rhetorical commentaries and treatises, but also a great deal of early modern Italian printed drama. While I had already consulted a number of commentaries on and translations of Aristotle’s Poetics from the period, my time at the Newberry permitted me to examine paratextual materials in Renaissance Italian translations of Greco-Roman tragedies by Seneca and Sophocles, along with those appearing in original tragedies and comedies produced in the period. I was able to consult approximately 40 different texts, many of which contained implicit and at times explicit references to the Poetics, suggesting that the vernacular reception of Aristotle’s Poetics was wider than previously thought, and occurred not only outside of commentaries, translations, and poetic treatises but also beyond the printed page, as several plays made reference to the Poetics in their prologues, epilogues, and added choruses which would have been performed on stage. I plan to use this research in a substantial article that I am currently drafting and aim to submit for publication by December, 2016.
This fellowship also permitted me to meet with several staff members at the Newberry in order to plan a two-day History of the Book Symposium I am organising for 2017, and a related one-day postgraduate workshop. An integral part of both events will be hands-on sessions in the Newberry’s special collections. During my time at the Newberry I was able to select several items for these activities and discuss their suitability with curatorial staff.
Dolce, Lodovico. Comedie di Lodovico Dolce. Cioè, Il ragazzo, Il marito, Il capitano, La fabritia, Il ruffiano. (Vinegia: Appresso Gabriel Giolito de Ferrari, 1560).
Newberry Case Y 712.D684. The book’s elegant binding is the work of Antoine Chatelin, a 19th-century French book binder who operated in London. It features marbled boards, all gilt edges, and fore-edge marbling.