“Beginning as Negation: Giordano Bruno's Italian Dialogues.”
Hilary Gatti
Written and published in London during his period in the French Embassy there between 1583 and 1585, Giordano Bruno’s Italian dialogues begin on a note of negation. Entitled La cena delle ceneri, the first of these dialogues is offered to the French Ambassador, to whom it is dedicated, as a present; but in his description of his gift, Bruno is concerned above all to define what it is not. Only gradually, through a series of negative definitions, does it begin to become clear what the text might be, or could be, or is. My paper assumes, according to a growing critical consensus, that this first volume of Bruno’s six Italian dialogues is not to be read on its own, but functions rather as the beginning of a philosophical narrative that develops throughout the six Italian works, finding its apocalyptic, choral ending in the final pages of the last of these dialogues, the Heroici furori. The questions which then emerge are: what function does Bruno’s negative beginning play with respect to his final moment of ecstatic illumination? What are the roles of dialogue and dialectic within this sophisticated and self-conscious literary presentation of his philosophy? Are Bruno’s beginnings and endings only the beginnings and endings of his texts, or are they not also representations (or denials) of the beginning and ending of the world, of time, of life itself?
Hilary Gatti is the among the leading interpreters of Giordano Bruno’s work, and she occupies a unique position among current Bruno scholars in her English training (at Reading University) and Italian academic career (now professor emerita, Dipartimento di Ricerche Storico-filosofiche e pedagogiche at the Università di Roma, ‘La Sapienza’). Long associated with the Warburg Institute in London, Gatti collaborated there with D.P. Gordon, Frances Yates, and Joseph Trapp. In addition to numerous articles on Bruno, the early modern theater, the history of science, and natural philosophy, Gatti is the editor of Giordano Bruno: Philosopher of the Renaissance (Ashgate, 2002), and author of two books: The Renaissance Drama of Knowledge: Giordano Bruno in England (Routledge, 1989); and Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science (Cornell, 1999).
"The Many Origins of Risorgimento Mobilization in Italy: Problems of Interpretation (1790s-1860s)."
Catherine Brice
Alberto Mario Banti’s La Nazione del Risorgimento, published in 2000, has had a tremendously vivid impact on Risorgimento historians, in Italy and abroad. Taking my starting point from the critics opposed to Banti’s highly cultural vision of the love for the Patria, I will try to understand how one can try to address the problem of mobilization for a national cause, namely the Risorgimento, by weaving together the history of representation, the history of political ideas, and the passage to action itself. A central question, therefore, is how Banti’s text has impelled many historians to revisit their conception of political engagement, political mobilization, and of collective action in the nineteenth century.
Catherine Brice, who has written extensively on the Italian Monarchy and Italian national identity, Italian Monuments in Rome, the Vittoriano as symbol of United Italy, and, most recently, on the history of political liberalism in Italy, will reflect on the multiple beginnings of the Italian nation, in particular with an eye toward how they influence current Italian culture and politics.
Link to Catherine Brice’s Page
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