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VOLUME 6 ISSUE 1 (2021) | Literature, social engagement and civil commitment in the Italian press of the 18th and 19th centuries

Francesca Bianco, Andrea Penso, "Introduction"

Keywords: Journalism, Long 18th Century, Digital Humanities, Women Studies, Cultural Mediation


Elena Zilotti, "Journalism and Theatre in the Age of Enlightenment: Elisabetta Caminer’s reviews for L’Europa Letteraria"

This paper focuses on the figure of Elisabetta Caminer, at the beginning of her experience as a journalist and intercultural mediator. The analysis of some examples of her theatrical reviews for the Venetian journal L’Europa Letteraria (1768-1773) shows how Caminer’s work was not only journalistic and theatrical but also intercultural and conceived as a means of social commitment. In the mid-eighteenth century, the discussion on dramaturgy also evolved in a debate on society; therefore, Elisabetta Caminer decided to spread and promote in Italy a very specific kind of dramatic genre: the new bourgeois French-style drama. This is proven by the choice to select pieces in which real-life situations, moral behavior, and civil matters come to the fore. The article proposes some trajectories that exemplify her work and her ideology: the introduction of French works that fall within the larmoyante genre, still not very widespread in the Italian peninsula; the presentation of works by Italian authors inspired by French dramaturgy; the clear opposition to works still tied to the old tradition and without moralizing purpose. Her favorable opinion towards a theatre more sensitive to civil and moral aspects, which can nevertheless be effectively staged and performed, highlights the interconnection promoted by Elisabetta Caminer between journalism, theatre, and society and between Italy and France.

Keywords: 18-Century, Enlightenment, Italian press, History of theatre, Intercultural Mediation


Maria Di Maro, "The Enlightened Journalism of Elisabetta Caminer Turra"

In the second half of the 18th century, literary periodicals contributed to the circulation of books and knowledge in Europe. Elisabetta Caminer Turra’s Giornale enciclopedico (1777-1781) – one of the most important journals in the Veneto area –was guided by European Enlightenment principles. Through analysis of six articles, written in the first two years of Caminer Turra’s management of the periodical, this paper aims to illustrate how the aforementioned principles underlined both the purposes of the journal and her professional ethics. My analysis reveals Caminer Turra to be an attentive reader of the masters of the European Enlightenment–particularly Denis Diderot, Jean LeRond d’Alembert, and John Locke–who used their teachings to build and promote a certain idea of journalism as objective, militant, and open to the most revolutionary European ideas.

Keywords: Elisabetta Caminer Turra, 18th-century journalism, European Enlightenment, Encyclopedism, Journalist’s deontology


Andrea Penso, "Between Literature and Journalism: The Circulation of Foreign Literary News on the Italian Gazettes of the Early 19th Century"

Despite a long-lasting interest of the academic community towards the origins of Italian journalism, to this day many aspects of the early networks of information existing in the Italian pre-unitarian states of the long 18th century have not received adequate critical attention. This is particularly true for what concerns the introduction and the diffusion of foreign culture through the press, especially concerning those countries which were not immediately connected to the peninsula, geographically or politically. For example, the Italian reception of the English culture in the long 18th century through the periodical press is still a largely unexplored field. A blatant example of this trend is represented by the gazettes: these (almost) quotidian publications are probably the widest source of information about the daily life of the time. Not only did they cover a wide array of topics (from politics to economy, arts, and culture), with news coming from many different countries, but they were also made available in cafes and public gathering places, where they were read out loud for the attending people that wanted to be updated with the latest news. Since the beginning of their capillary diffusion in the Italian peninsula, which started in the late 18th century, gazettes contained also a multitude of articles about the life and works of prominent writers of the time and were one of the most effective tools for the spreading of knowledge and information. To this day, nevertheless, the role played by the gazettes in the reception of foreign culture has not been sufficiently investigated. This paper will analyze the crossings and intersections occurring between literature and journalism in the Italian press of the early 19th century, by focusing on a particular case study, namely the reception of Walter Scott and his work in the gazette published in Milan, Turin, Parma, Florence, and Naples. The choice of Walter Scott as a case study is not arbitrary: a preliminary reading of the corpus of gazettes shows that no other foreign author is mentioned as many times as the Scottish novelist, who received immediate and consistent attention from the press since the very first appearance of his novels in translation (initially in French, and then in Italian). The aim of this article is primarily to analyze the extent of the overlaps and the crossings that tied together with the foreign and the Italian press of the time, deepening, in particular, the understanding of how the Italian gazettes interacted with the British and French press. Secondly, the study will demonstrate how this cross-cultural and polycentric approach favored the widespread of information about the English literary milieu across Italy.

Keywords: Walter Scott, 19th-century Novel, Cultural Mediation, Gazettes, Italian Cultural Identiry


Francesca Bianco, “Stampa periodica e nuova coscienza civile nel Veneto del ‘decennio di preparazione’: il caso della Rivista Euganea

The case study presented in this essay analyses the Rivista Euganea, a weekly review published in Padua, as a symbol of a topic still very neglected by the Italian literary studies about the 19th century, namely the crossings between literature and journalism during the so-called ‘preparation decade’ (1850-1860). The essay aims to shed light on the experience of the periodical press of the Venetian area, about which there is no specific research, even if this phenomenon represents an important moment within the building process of political identity and new civil conscience, perceived as fundamental steps to reach the national unity. The intersection between literature and journalism (spread through several branches of knowledge) becomes one of the most common for the culture of the period, in particular when the purpose of this crossing is the growth and education of society. The study analyses how the development of this purpose does not limit itself to the divulgation of a ‘notional’ knowledge but deeply engages itself with the civil, social, and municipal reality of the time. The language of the journals’ articles is didactic and informative, to effectively reach the readers, by creating a communication code that keeps together journalistic and literary features. The study demonstrates how the simple and immediate style of the periodical press crosses the higher literary language, orienting it towards the didactic dimension. If on the one hand traditional literature is present inside the reviews through bibliographical critiques and announcements, on the other the literary language, like a sort of a linguistic and cultured koiné, leaks itself in all the articles, mixing/gelling the language of the élites with that of the periodical press. This crossing between literature and journalism becomes the principal means of communication with the public and gains a widespread circulation that reaches even the little countryside villages. The principal aim of the essay is to prove how the crossing between literature and journalism allows transmitting social and political considerations. Such overflowing messages, however, had to be conveyed with prudent circumspection and within an encrypted communication code, aimed at avoiding the innumerable obstacles of the severe Austrian censorship. The communication, therefore, traveled on two levels: a literal and formal one, that had an anti-censorship function, and a metaphorical one, that was ciphered and comprehensible only to those who had the right keys to interpret it. The article describes the profile of the journals of the period, their socio-cultural environment, their sparkling dynamism that mirrors an increasingly politically engaged society, in the firm awareness that «no power by now can counterbalance the power of the press»: the process towards the unification of Italy is now unstoppable.

Attraverso l’analisi di un esempio, il saggio intende presentare alcune riflessioni relativamente a un ambito tuttora molto trascurato degli studi letterari sul medio Ottocento, ossia l’incrocio fra letteratura e giornalismo nelle riviste venete del cosiddetto ‘decennio di preparazione’ (1850-1860). Questa esperienza, su cui il lavoro intende far luce, è sostanzialmente priva di una ricerca specifica per quanto riguarda il territorio veneto, mentre invece costituisce una tappa importante all’interno del processo di costruzione identitaria e di una nuova coscienza civile, percepite come passi fondamentali per raggiungere l’Unità Nazionale. Il binomio letteratura-giornalismo diventa così uno degli attraversamenti letterari interdisciplinari più comuni e importanti per la cultura dell’epoca, in particolare quando l’obiettivo di questo incrocio è l’educazione civile dei lettori: lo studio analizza come questo orizzonte non si limiti ai soli campi dello scibile nozionistico disciplinare, ma si ampli in senso lato al civile, al sociale, al municipale. Gli articoli delle riviste sono relativi a letteratura, astronomia, medicina o idraulica, ma il loro linguaggio non è specialistico, bensì didascalico, divulgativo, in modo da essere efficacemente assimilabile, realizzando un codice che amalgama lo stile giornalistico e quello più aulico-letterario. Il lavoro dimostra come lo stile semplice e immediato della stampa periodica attraversi il linguaggio più alto della letteratura, piegandolo verso la dimensione divulgativa. Questo incrocio di letteratura e giornalismo diventa il principale mezzo di comunicazione con il pubblico non elitario e gode di una diffusione capillare che si spinge fino ai piccoli paesi di campagna. Il municipalismo è infatti qui inteso in senso positivo, ossia come un importante tassello che costituisce la parte di un mosaico più ampio, al cui completamento ogni tessera tende con impegno. L’obiettivo principale del saggio è quello di dar prova di come l’incrocio fra letteratura e giornalismo permetta di veicolare messaggi prorompenti con oculata circospezione e all’interno di un codice comunicativo criptato, teso ad evitare gli innumerevoli ostacoli posti dalla severa censura austriaca. La comunicazione viaggia quindi su due piani, con due significati del testo: uno letterale e formale, in funzione anti-censoria, e uno metaforico, cifrato e comprensibile solo a chi possiede la giusta chiave di lettura. Prendendo come esempio la padovana Rivista Euganea, il saggio indaga il profilo dei fogli dell’epoca, il loro ambiente socio-culturale, il frizzante dinamismo che pervade la società politicamente impegnata, nella ferma consapevolezza che «niuna potenza ormai può controbilanciare la potenza della stampa»: il processo verso l’Unità dell’Italia è ormai inarrestabile.

Keywords: Rivista Euganea, Italian National Unity, Venetian Press, Preparation Decade, Civil Commitment 


Carmela Panarello, “Da Cornelia a Cordelia: Il lavoro delle donne nella stampa femminile Toscana”

The perception of the work of women is analyzed through some magazines for girls or mothers published in the last decades of the 19th century, starting from Cornelia, a fortnightly journal published in Florence from 1872 until 1880. While the press of the time considered the female work as an extension of the maternal role in the field of education or caretaking or limited to the realization of strictly feminine works, this periodical introduced the concept of gender in Italy with a reflection on the working conditions of the teachers and the role of education. Without neglecting the news coming from abroad about the first claims of women’s rights, its director Aurelia Folliero de Luna, influenced by the emancipationist theories of John Stuart Mill, denounced the condition of subjection to the male authority and claimed the right to work and to education for all women. In particular, it highlighted how the transmission of those educational models that were based on Catholic morality and keen on respecting the bourgeois conventions made the attendance of male higher education institutions difficult, if not impossible, for women. Therefore, although there were no explicit legislative bans the female universe was denied access to university and to the ability to carry out qualified work. The same theme was taken up between 1902 and 1903 by Cordelia, Giornale per giovinette, which published seven articles entitled "How I became a doctor", in which the pursuit of university studies and professional activities were proposed as instruments of autonomy and individual redemption for women. a professional activity. The articles witnessed the commitment of Aldina Francolini, a young woman who studied medicine and had to fight to access a profession traditionally reserved for men. Her story is described without victimization, with the awareness that true emancipation cannot be separated from the right to work. Leaving aside the tones of the denunciation for a different but equally effective communicative language, this battle of civilization acquired an educational value: the will and determination of the young woman became a reassuring example for the families and the testimony of an unusual but achievable experience for the readers.

Lo studio propone una ricerca sui sistemi e i modelli di comunicazione con cui le intersezioni tra il tema del lavoro e la questione femminile sono trattati da alcune riviste toscane destinate a un pubblico di fanciulle o di madri di famiglia L’efficacia dell’approccio a una questione potenzialmente destabilizzante per il sistema politico e sociale della seconda metà del XIX secolo è indagata in un excursus che va dalla ricezione in Cornelia delle teorie emancipazioniste del pensatore inglese John Stuart Mill alla predominanza di un’impronta pedagogica nella rivista Cordelia. Senza trascurare sia l’analisi degli apporti del salotto politico-letterario di Emilia Peruzzi al dibattito sull’istruzione femminile e sul diritto di voto, che l’influenza della letteratura per l’infanzia, i cui modelli di civismo e patriottismo ignoravano qualsiasi istanza di genere. Infine, la difficoltà a scardinare una concezione retriva, frutto di una percezione consonante alla morale cattolica e al conformismo piccolo borghese dell'Italietta umbertina è evidenziata dalla contestualizzazione con altre pubblicazioni. Il lavoro femminile ne Il paniere da lavoro e L’eco della moda si limita alla realizzazione di lavori muliebri oppure ne La madre di famiglia e la maestra elementare italiana è considerato un’estensione del ruolo materno nel campo dell’istruzione. Pertanto l’indagine verte sull’esame delle diverse strategie a cui ciascuno dei due periodici, secondo la linea editoriale seguita, ricorre per trasmettere un messaggio dirompente. Ovvero, che le giovanette della buona società, educate a diventare delle brave madri di famiglia, solo frequentando gli istituti superiori e l’università, per consuetudine riservati all’altro sesso, si sarebbero potute affrancare da una condizione di soggezione all’autorità maschile e avrebbero potuto accedere alle professioni liberali. Cornelia con un approccio dogmatico cerca di motivare le sue lettrici alternando le notizie delle prime timide rivendicazioni alle informazioni provenienti dagli altri paesi europei o d’oltreoceano sui riconoscimenti di qualche diritto alle donne. Su Cordelia il rifiuto del pietismo e del paternalismo s’accompagna a una riflessione sulla reale condizione di lavoro delle maestre e sul ruolo dell’istruzione, soprattutto femminile. La rivista diretta da Ida Baccini privilegia vicende del territorio dalla forte valenza pedagogica come la risolutezza di Aldina Francolini, che, nonostante difficoltà, invidie e critiche, ha frequentato il liceo e la facoltà di medicina grazie al sostegno familiare. Il racconto in prima persona della sua determinazione nello studio e nell’esercizio della professione medica offre alle famiglie un modello rassicurante di impegno e alle lettrici la testimonianza di un’esperienza a prima vista inusuale ma realizzabile con un’attitudine positiva.

Keywords: Tuscan Press, Women Studies, Cornelia, Cordelia, Italian Salotti


Marguerite Bordry, “Un « jeu de miroirs » déformant? Les revues italiennes sous l’œil du Mercure de France (1890-1918)”

This study analyzes the reception of Italian literary reviews in the Mercure de France, to measure their evolution according to the personality and stylistic choices of each columnist, but also according to the networks in which they are inserted. Real intermediaries between Italian and French culture, the chroniclers of the Mercure make the magazine a point of contact between Italy and France. To thoroughly study a corpus of more than two hundred articles, in which the length and the authors vary, textometry (TXM) and the analysis of the modalities of critical discourse (Ariane platform) are applied, allowing to highlight the attention paid to the Italian avant-gardes, evident in the many articles devoted to journals published in Italy. In addition, the investigation pinpoints the limits and ambivalences of the Mercure's openness to Italian literature, at a time when the journal enjoyed in Italy an unequaled appreciation for a journal French. These sometimes asymmetric exchanges, therefore, constitute a unique method of transfer between two very close cultural areas.

Cette étude analyse la réception des revues littéraires italiennes dans le Mercure de France, afin d’en mesurer les évolutions sur le temps long, selon la personnalité et les choix de chaque chroniqueur, mais aussi selon les réseaux dans lesquels ils s’insèrent. Véritables passeurs entre culture italienne et culture française, les chroniqueurs du Mercure font de la revue un point de contact entre l’Italie et la France. Pour étudier un corpus de plus de deux cents articles, dont la longueur comme les auteurs varient, la textométrie (TXM) et l’analyse des modalités du discours critique (plateforme Ariane), permettent de mettre en lumière l’attention portée aux avant-gardes italiennes, évidente dans les nombreux articles consacrés aux revues publiées en Italie, mais aussi les limites et les ambivalences de l’ouverture du Mercure à la littérature italienne, à une époque où la revue jouissait en Italie d’un rayonnement inégalé pour une revue française. Ces échanges parfois asymétriques constituent donc une modalité singulière de transfert entre deux aires culturelles très proches.

Key words: Mercure de France; revues; textométrie; avant-gardes littéraires; circulations littéraires.