Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center
6th Floor of Van-Pelt Library
We will be welcoming Lodovica Braida for a talk entitled: “‘Dangerous Books.’ Italian Epistolary Collections in the Sixteenth Century: Censorship and Self-Censorship.” Lodovica writes:
Between the 1530s and the end of the sixteenth century, the Italian book market, especially in Venice, was invaded by hundreds of editions of epistolary collections. Such books were presented under a variety of headings, but the common aim was always the same: to popularize models of letter-writing in proper Italian vernacular.
Many anthologies of vernacular letters printed in Venice between 1542 and 1555 included numerous authors who were at that time under investigation by the Inquisition because they were suspected of sharing and circulating heterodox doctrines. Precise analysis of several editions of a single anthology shows that at the beginning of the 1540s epistolary anthologies circulated irenic doctrines and calls for reform within the Roman Church. In the following decades, as a consequence of the triumph of intransigent positions and the uncontested power of the Inquisition, epistolary anthologies were deeply transformed: the letters by authors put on the Index or investigated by the Inquisition were suppressed or expurgated. The “same” work in different editions acquired very different meanings.
Inquisitorial censorship and the self-censorship of the editors and publishers transformed an inoffensive genre, which proposed collections of letters to be imitated, into an instrument of diffusion or censorship of heterodox ideas.
Lodovica Braida is Full Professor of History of the Book at the University of Milan and Scientific Director of APICE (Archivi della parola, dell’immagine per la comunicazione editoriale). Her work is devoted to the history of publishing, reading practices, censorship and prohibited books in early modern Italy. She has published numerous articles and books on these topics, including Le guide del tempo. Produzione, contenuti e forme deli almanacchi piemontesi nell Settecento, (Torino, 1989), Il commercio delle idee. Editoria e circolazione del libro nella Torino dell Settecento (Florence, Olschki, 1995), Stampa e cultura in Europa tra XV e XVI secolo, (Rome-Bari, Laterza, 2000), Libri di lettere. Le raccolte epistolari del Cinquecento tra inquietudini religiose e ‘buon volgare’ (Rome-Bari, Laterza, 2009), and Erasmo da Rotterdam, Opulentia sordida e altri scritti attorno ad Aldo Manuzio (Venice, Marsilio, 2014). In 2012, she received the “Antonio Feltrinelli Prize” awarded by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei for her work in the history of the book.