Franco-Italian Literary Sociability and Early Modern Rome (1545-60)
My thesis studies literary sociability among French and Italian speakers in differing social circles in mid-sixteenth century Rome, using a range of poetic sources in French, Italian and Latin to argue that poetic exchange took on important socio-political functions through a turbulent period of Franco-Italian relations at the end of the Italian Wars (1494-1559) and during the Council of Trent (1545-63). The thesis draws on canonical authors together with ‘minor’ authors and occasional verse, with particular attention to materiality and paratextuality, to demonstrate the centrality of social networks to early modern poetic production. Moving successively through three poetic genres – lyric, epic and pastoral – the thesis argues that much early modern poetry should be seen functionally, that is, as a tool put into service in the pursuit of defined social goals. My thesis offers a major contribution to studies of Roman literary cultures of the sixteenth century; it discusses texts which have never been the focus of scholarly work, and its findings emphasise the often acknowledged but rarely examined role of the Roman court of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (1520-89) as a key site of literary production. In addition, it sheds new light on well-studied French expatriate writers, notably Joachim du Bellay (c. 1522-60), by reconsidering their writing within the context of contemporaneous Roman production and demonstrates the importance of Rome’s plurilingual culture in the production of literary works.