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Brendan Dooley
will speak at the Brown Bag Lunch series on Monday, September 14, 2015. His talk is entitled “Angelica’s Book: Material Culture and the Power of Reading.”

Brendan Dooley is Professor of Renaissance Studies at University College Cork and Research Fellow at Bard Graduate Center. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1986. Professor Dooley works on the histories of culture and knowledge with reference to Europe and especially to Italy and the Mediterranean world. He has published widely on topics relating to intellectual life, institutions and patronage structures from 1500-1800. Partly by background, partly by inclination, he is particularly drawn to topics regarding transition, transmission and translation, in the broadest senses. Hence the direction much of his recent research has taken, in the areas of mediality and communication, within and among physical and mental spaces, between past and present, in love and war. Examples include A Mattress Maker’s Daughter, the Renaissance Romance of Don Giovanni de’ Medici and Livia Vernazza (Harvard, 2014) and, as editor, The Dissemination of News and the Emergence of Contemporaneity in Early Modern Culture (Ashgate, 2010). He is currently investigating humanities methodologies applied to material culture in a project entitled “Angelica’s Book: The Power of Reading in a Late Renaissance City.”

At Bard Graduate Center, Professor Dooley will speak on “Angelica’s Book: Material Culture and the Power of Reading.” A woman’s signature on a 1570 edition of Giovanni Francesco Straparola’s Pleasant Nights (Notti piacevoli) provides the starting point for an inquiry about clandestine reading in early modern Europe, touching also upon textual strategies in a regime of censorship, the psychology of literature, and the methodologies of humanities research. The identity of “Angelica Baldachini” may never be discovered with complete certainty; however, her signature on Straparola’s prohibited book speaks volumes regarding some of the most controversial themes in cultural history. This talk will attempt a number of experiments, seeking suggestive results, in areas ranging from physical bibliography to diplomatics, from archaeology to graphology. The conclusion opens on the theme of conservation, considering the future of the material evidence at hand and the fragility of memory.


Coffee and tea will be served; attendees are welcome to bring their own lunch.

RSVP is required.