Nicole Pohl, ‘“Cosmopolites or Nationalists?”: Mme de Stael, Anna Amalia of Saxe-Weimar, Frederick II, Rahel Varnhagen and Caroline de la Motte-Fouque in Dialogue’

The next session of the TORCH Enlightenment Correspondences Network will take place on Tuesday, 31 January 2017, 1-2 p.m. (sandwiches available from 12.45), at Ertegun House (37A St Giles, Oxford OX1 3LD). Our speaker will be Professor Nicole Pohl (Oxford Brookes University), with a talk entitled ‘“Cosmopolites or Nationalists?”: Mme de Stael, Anna Amalia of Saxe-Weimar, Frederick II, Rahel Varnhagen and Caroline de la Motte-Fouque in Dialogue’.

If you plan to attend the talk, please RVSP to enlightenmentcorr@gmail.com by Monday, 23 January, including any special dietary requirements for the free sandwich lunch.

All welcome!

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Felix Waldmann (Cambridge), ‘The Correspondence of David Hume’

Welcome back to another year of the TORCH Enlightenment Correspondences Network!

Our first speaker will be Felix Waldmann (Cambridge), whose talk on ‘The Correspondence of David Hume’ has been rescheduled for Tuesday, 22 November (Seventh Week), at Ertegun House (37A St Giles). Sandwiches will be available from 12.45, with the seminar beginning at 1.

If you plan to attend, please let us know by emailing enlightenmentcorr@gmail.com by 15 November, including any dietary requirements for the free sandwich lunch.

We have further events lined up for Hilary and Trinity, and we look forward to seeing you on 22 November!

Felix Waldmann (Cambridge), ‘The Correspondence of David Hume’

The next Enlightenment Correspondences Network meeting will be held on Tuesday, 31 May (Sixth Week), from 12.30 till 2, at Ertegun House (37A St Giles’): we will be hosting Felix Waldmann (Cambridge) to learn about ‘The Correspondence of David Hume’.

If you plan to attend, please let us know by emailing enlightenmentcorr@gmail.com by 24 May, including any dietary requirements for the sandwich lunch.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Catriona Seth, ‘Royal Secrets: Marie-Antoinette’s exchanges with ambassador Mercy’

Happy Trinity Term! Our first Enlightenment Correspondences Network meeting will take place already on Tuesday of First Week (26 April): Professor Catriona Seth (All Souls, Oxford) will be telling us about her current work on ‘Royal Secrets: Marie-Antoinette’s exchanges with ambassador Mercy’. The meeting will begin at 1 p.m. (note the later time) at Ertegun House (37A St Giles).

If you plan to attend, please let us know by emailing enlightenmentcorr@gmail.com by Friday, 22 April, so that we can get an accurate count for the free sandwich lunch.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

The Correspondence of the Verri Brothers (1766-1797) and Newly Edited Online Resources on the Italian Enlightenment

By Pierre Musitelli (École normale supérieure, Paris)

 

The correspondence between Pietro Verri (1728-1797) and Alessandro (1741-1816) Verri, two brothers from the enlightened Milanese aristocracy, is one of the major epistolary legacies of the Italian Enlightenment. It unfolded over more than 30 years, from 1766 to 1797, and, despite unrecoverable losses, especially in the early years of the 20th century, it still contains over 3,800 letters. It is an accurate and vivid reflection of the intellectual and political history of the last decades of the Ancien Régime, from the “Age of Reforms” in Italy to the French Revolution and the invasion of Piedmont and Lombardy by Bonaparte. Historian Giuseppe Ricuperati considers these letters “an extraordinary dialogue between two of the sharpest and most enlightened Italian minds, each brother reacting to contemporary events in his own way, making diverging choices out of a common history and culture[1].”

Throughout these years, the Carteggio had several functions: the first was to spread news and political information along a route between Rome and Southern Italy, on the one hand, and Milan and Vienna, on the other. Some excerpts were read and shown in Milanese aristocratic circles by Pietro and in Roman salons by Alessandro. The Carteggio was well-known for the quality of its information, and although the Verri brothers often used ciphers, their letters often bear traces showing that they were intercepted and opened by Milanese or Roman authorities.

The letters also fulfilled a private role, as the brothers shared news about their sentimental lives, marriages, about births or mourning in the family, moments of doubt or personal crises. They also fulfilled an editorial function, each brother sending his manuscripts for the other to read, amend and revise. It also had an intellectual import, as the brothers sent books along with their letters. Pietro, for example, sent large numbers of pamphlets by Voltaire to Rome, along with Shakespeare’s complete works in French, as well as some of the volumes from the Livorno edition of the Encyclopédie. Lastly, and especially for Alessandro, the correspondence had a vital financial function: Pietro sent him money, since he had no resources of his own in Rome.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this correspondence is the debate on the European Enlightenment and its evolution. The debate gathered momentum as the intellectual rift between the two brothers widened. Pietro, a Milanese statesman and ardent reformist, remained a staunch republican throughout his life and hoped the French Revolution would take a constitutionalist turn, while Alessandro, a self-appointed defender of throne and altar, contended that political passions, embodied by the philosophes, were dangerous, and he advocated the values of counter-revolution during the last months of his life.

The first months of the Carteggio, dedicated to Alessandro’s trip to Paris and London (with Cesare Beccaria, the author of Crime and Punishments, and at the invitation of the Encyclopédistes), and its last years (1782-1797) were the objects of remarkable critical editions offering reliable and stable versions of the texts.[2] For the rest of the correspondence, researchers must work with an incomplete and relatively outdated edition published between 1910 and 1942, in which the text is often erroneous, as it was subjected to alterations and even censored in its crudest or most wanton details.[3] Today, a new prospect for research is the creation of the online platform “illuminismolombardo.it”, edited by Gianni Francioni (University of Pavia), an internet archive that will give scholars access to major sources on the Northern Italian Enlightenment. A wider audience will be able to see the results of two recently completed editorial projects: the National Editions of the works of Cesare Beccaria (including his letters) and of Pietro Verri[4]. The platform will include the revised complete edition of the correspondence of the Verri Brothers. The first volume of the Carteggio (1766-1767) is already available online, as well as all the essays from the Caffè, along with the complete collection of the journal Studi settecenteschi (1981-2010, 30 vol.) edited by G. Francioni. Texts and letters by Paolo Frisi, Alfonso Longo, Giuseppe Gorani, Giambattista Biffi will be added later, making this portal the promise of renewed research on this major legacy.

[1] G. Ricuperati, “L’epistolario dei fratelli Verri”, in Nuove idee e nuova arte nel ’700 italiano, Rome, Atti dei convegni lincei, 1977, p. 274.

[2] Viaggio a Parigi e Londra (1766-1767). Carteggio di Pietro e Alessandro Verri, G. Gaspari ed., Milan, Adelphi, 1980 ; Carteggio di Pietro e Alessandro Verri, in Edizione nazionale delle opere di Pietro Verri, 2a serie, vol. VII: 1782-1792 (G. Di Renzo Villata ed., Rome, Edizioni di storia e letteratura, 2012) and vol. VIII: 1792-1797 (S. Rosini ed., Rome, Edizioni di storia e letteratura, 2008).

[3] Carteggio di Pietro e Alessandro Verri (1766-1782), E. Greppi, A. Giulini, F. Novati and G. Seregni ed., Milan, 1910-1942, 12 vol.

[4] Edizione nazionale delle opere di Cesare Beccaria, L. Firpo and G. Francioni ed., Milan, Mediobanca, 1984-2009, 16 vol.; Edizione nazionale delle opere di Pietro Verri, G. Barbarisi, R. Pasta et al. ed., Rome, Edizioni di storia e letteratura, 2003-2015, 6 vol.

Upcoming Events for Hilary Term

We can now confirm three exciting events lined up for this term:

On Tuesday, 16 February (Fifth Week), Pierre Musitelli (ENS, Paris) will be speaking about ‘Enlightenment and conservatism in the correspondence of the Verri brothers’.

On Tuesday, 23 February (Sixth Week), Alexis Tadié (Oxford/Sorbonne) will be telling us about the letters of Laurence Sterne.

On Tuesday, 1 March (Seventh Week), Fiona Stafford (Oxford) will be discussing ‘“All my important nothings”: Jane Austen and her letters’.

Our seminars take place from 12.30 until 2 p.m. at Ertegun House (37A St Giles’) over a free sandwich lunch.  Please RSVP to enlightenmentcorr@gmail.com by the Tuesday of the week before the seminar(s) that you plan to attend: this will help us to get an accurate count for lunch.  Please also let us know of any special dietary requirements.

All most welcome!

Tobias Heinrich, ‘Social Media in the Eighteenth Century’

We’d like to draw your attention to another eighteenth-century letters-related event coming up soon in Oxford!

The next session of the Besterman Enlightenment Workshop will be held on Monday, 1 February 2016 (Third Week), at 5 p.m., at the Voltaire Foundation (99 Banbury Road).  Tobias Heinrich (University of Oxford) will be speaking on ‘Social Media in the Eighteenth Century: Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim (1719-1803) and the Temple of Friendship’.  The abstract for the paper is as follows:

‘This talk presents an ongoing research project on Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim, a key figure in German intellectual life in the Age of Enlightenment. While widely known for his poetry in anacreontic verse and the literary praise of King Frederick II during the Seven Years’ War, Gleim primarily gained his reputation through his role as patron and networking figure.

“Social Media in the Eighteenth Century” explores the media apparatus Gleim employs in his epistolary practices. Combining letter writing, portraiture and mundane objects, he develops innovative forms of self-expression that in many ways resemble the digital social networks of the twenty-first century. Within Gleim’s correspondence, the subject is constituted through collective authorship and the interplay of the textual and the pictorial. In his letters, which draw on extended notions of friendship to shape social relations, identities are negotiated and the boundaries of public and private become porous. Following approaches in new German media theory (Kittler, Koschorke) and concepts of the dialogical self (Zima), this project links historical configurations of epistolary correspondence to current communication practices in the digital sphere. It aims to increase our understanding of past means of communication while at the same time contributing to the analysis of more recent changes in the use of media and the formation of social networks.’

Tea, coffee, and biscuits will be served.

All welcome!

For the full programme of this term’s seminars and for more information about the TORCH Enlightenment Programme/Besterman Centre for the Enlightenment, please visit our website.

Pierre Musitelli (ENS), ‘Enlightenment and conservatism in the correspondence of the Verri brothers’

On Tuesday, 16 February 2016 (Fifth Week), from 12.30-2 p.m., Pierre Musitelli (ENS, Paris) will be speaking at a session of the TORCH Enlightenment Correspondences Network on the topic of ‘Enlightenment and conservatism in the correspondence of the Verri brothers’.  The seminar will take place at Ertegun House (37A St Giles’, Oxford, OX1 3LD) over a free sandwich lunch.

Please RSVP to enlightenmentcorr@gmail.com by 9 February if you plan to attend, and please include any special dietary requirements you may have for the lunch.

All welcome!