Prato / Villa I Tatti Conference A Success

PhD student Luke Bancroft reports on a recent conference hosted jointly at Monash Prato and Harvard’s Villa I Tatti in Florence:

The recent collaboration between Villa I Tatti and the Monash University Prato Centre, facilitated by our Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, brought together an exciting range of scholars with the aim of exploring the myriad of ways Latin interacted with vernacular languages in early modern Europe. Organized by the CMRS’s great friend, Andrea Rizzi (Melbourne), and Eva Del Soldato (University of Pennsylvania), this two-day conference promised to be an intriguing and thought-provoking forum.

Peter Howard speaks at the I Tatti / Prato 2013 Languages conference
Peter Howard speaks at the Villa I Tatti / Monash Prato 2013 Languages conference

Unfortunately, the program suffered a blow before proceedings were even underway with the withdrawal of Stephen Milner due to illness. Dr Rizzi, however, more than capably stepped into the breach. Set amongst the beautiful environs of I Tatti, the papers of the first and second sessions exhibited a strong Italian focus, and the liveliness of the ensuing discussion was hardly surprising given the quality of the speakers, including Peter Howard, CMRS Director.

Moving to Prato and the equally wonderful surroundings of the Palazzo Vaj, the third and fourth sessions saw the conference expand its gaze somewhat by taking in a range of papers on themes as diverse as the Dutch rhetoricians, the role of Latin and Italian in early modern England, and a fascinating example of multilingual interplay between Latin, Portuguese, and Hebrew. Further highlights of this second day were David Lines presenting his work on vernacular Aristotelianism, and Mario Casari explaining the infiltration of Arabic into the Italian Renaissance. Indeed, Dr Casari has been invited to present to the CMRS at Monash sometime in 2014, so hopefully the entire Centre will be able to benefit from a sample of his exciting work.

Eva and Andrea brought the conference to a close, with both using the opportunity of a brief roundtable discussion to remind everyone present of the opportunities that await those scholars prepared to delve into the relationship between the traditional lingua franca and its corresponding vernacular context. And of course, in true Italian style, a glass of red (or two) rounded things off rather well.

The next Villa I Tatti/Monash Prato-CMRS conference is scheduled for early June 2015.