italian-studies: Scholarly discussions in any field of Italian studies

*/Annali d’Italianistica/ 2016*

*Speaking Truth to Power from Medieval to Modern Italy*

/Guest-Editors://Jo Ann Cavallo (Columbia University) and Carlo Lottieri 
(Università di Siena)/

We seek original, unpublished essays exploring instances in which 
literary characters and historical figures from the medieval to the 
modern period articulate personal, political, economic, or religious 
freedoms or otherwise challenge the established power of the state at 
the risk of their livelihood or their very lives.

In a court trial in which she faced a death sentence for adultery, 
Boccaccio’s Madonna Filippa wittily defends herself by refuting the 
legitimacy of a law made without her consent, proclaiming self-ownership 
of her body and evoking free market principles (/Decameron /6.7). She 
thereby not only successfully regains her freedom but also succeeds in 
overturning an unjust law. Yet those who defend their rights and 
liberties against the powers that be have not always been quite so 
fortunate, especially in real-life scenarios. Just a few generations 
later, the humanist Poggio Bracciolini penned an account of Jerome of 
Prague’s pre-execution discourse which eloquently argued for 
intellectual freedom as it condemned the abuses of the Roman Curia. As 
many other critics of the Church also discovered, speaking out against 
unsavory papal practices could have fatal consequences even if one did 
not attempt to enunciate alternative metaphysical or scientific views as 
Giordano Bruno and Galileo later did.

While expressions of the right to personal, intellectual, or religious 
liberty presented an implicit threat to the political establishment, 
some authors aimed their comments and criticisms—whether in their own 
voice or through the invention of literary characters—directly against 
the machinations of the ruling elite. Well aware of the peril to one’s 
person in confronting princely power, Castiglione advised courtiers to 
use salutary deception like a doctor who sweetens the rim of a medicine 
cup (/Libro del cortegiano /4.10). Machiavelli’s disregard for such 
tactics in his passionate critique of the /ottimati/ in “Ricordi ai 
Palleschi” (1512) may have contributed to his imprisonment and torture 
in 1513 as an alleged conspirator planning to overthrow the Medici 

We encourage essays thataddress underlying ideological premises or make 
use of political and social theory in treatingimaginedor actual 
expressions of personal or community rights in the face of 
institutionalized power. Attention to intellectual traditions that 
valorize human action, such as libertarian philosophy and the Austrian 
School of economics, is especially welcome. In contextualizing 
occurrences in which writers dared to confront power structures across 
the centuries, we also aim to shed light on similarities and differences 
in the peninsula’s shifting social, economic, and political 
configurations. Literary or historical examples to consider might 
include Alberti's /Momus/, Tarabotti’s /Tirannia paterna/, Manzoni’s 
/Storia della colonna infame/, Morante’s /La storia/, and Pasolini’s 
/Scritti corsari/.

The deadline for submission is September 30, 2015; the volume will be 
published in the fall of 2016. All contributions will be refereed. 
Essays, not to exceed 25 double-spaced pages, can be written in Italian 
or English, and should conform to the style-sheet criteria set forth by 
/Annali d'Italianistica/ (

*Prospective contributors should address inquiries to both guest 
editors:****Jo Ann Cavallo:*[log in to unmask] 
<mailto:[log in to unmask]>and *Carlo Lottieri*: [log in to unmask] 
<mailto:[log in to unmask]>__

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