Laughing at culture: modes of mocking intellectual hegemony in early modern Italy

During the Renaissance, as it has happened throughout history, we find in the arts strands of satire and parody, the target of which was the so-called 'official culture'. There are many examples in literature and figurative arts of subversion of philosophy, language codes, visual codes, literary genres and so on. To speak of them as ‘culture’ and ‘counter-culture’ however, is problematic, as by doing so we add our posthumous perspective which often does not take into account their coexistence in the work, for example, of one author. Satire of culture was not necessarily intended as the denial of learning. Was it then only cultured entertainment or means of ridiculing personal enemies?

The aim of this panel is to explore this uninterrupted exchange between the ‘official’ and ‘non-official’ cultures in Italy from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century, and we invite papers that explore the written and figurative expressions of the phenomenon, the poetics and the practices of transgression, hybridization and subversion.


Other possible topics may refer to the following suggestions:

  • Is there a common pattern between different kinds of transgression?
  • Is there a common pattern inside a specific field of transgression?
  • Did transgressive works lose against ‘official culture’?



Please send the following to both organizers by May 31, Stefano Nicosia (University of Palermo, and Federica Signoriello (Warburg Institute,

  • Title of Paper
  • Abstract (150 words maximum)
  • Keywords
  • Current CV/Brief Bio: affiliation, degrees awarded, major publications, etc. (300 words max).
Submission date for papers: 
31 May 2014