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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Representing the Sack of Rome and its Aftermath, 1527-1540
by Goethals, Jessica, Ph.D., New York University, 2012, 395; 3524266
Abstract (Summary)

In 1527 the Spanish and German troops of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, brutally sacked Renaissance Rome, a shocking climax to the Italian Wars that had plagued Europe since 1494. This dissertation examines representations of the Sack of Rome and its aftermath in vernacular literature. Arguing against prevalent interpretations of the Sack as inimical to cultural production in the Cinquecento, an idea rooted largely in the dearth of artistic and Latin humanist responses, I show instead that the event stimulated an outpouring of vernacular works in print, manuscript, and both public and private performance. These works satisfied a collective appetite for depictions of the Sack, and the act of narrating the tragedy allowed contemporaries both to interpret the events themselves and to formulate theories about their cultural consequences, notably including ones advocating reanimation and renovatio. By situating this literary phenomenon within the broader transition to a predominantly vernacular culture and by highlighting the manner in which the destructive event prompted constructive cultural responses, I demonstrate that this body of works contributed to the enduring vitality of the Italian literary climate in the face of political and military disaster.

Five chapters consider a variety of these texts, from prophecies to comedies, by canonical, understudied, and anonymous writers from the immediate wake of the tragedy to the end of the 1530s. The first, on Alfonso de Vald├ęs and Baldassare Castiglione, explores questions of apocalypse, spirituality, and cultural identity through rival Spanish and Italian narratives. The second, on Luigi Guicciardini, considers the rhetorical role of graphic violence in historiographic treatments aimed at political rejuvenation. The third, on Francesco Guicciardini, traces the impact of the Sack on autobiographical, rhetorical, and historiographic works. The fourth considers the rewriting and reappropriation of the tragedy in works intended for public entertainment, looking specifically at Girolamo Casio de' Medici, Eustachio Celebrino, and the Accademia degli Intronati. The fifth chapter turns to the Sack's influence on the questione della lingua and the shift of intellectual communities from Rome to the Venetian Republic through a discussion of, among others, Pietro Aretino, Sperone Speroni, and Pietro Bembo.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Tylus, Jane
Commitee: Bolzoni, Lina, Cox, Virginia, Gouwens, Kenneth, Wolff, Larry
School: New York University
Department: Italian Studies
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 74/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Comparative literature, Romance literature, European history
Keywords: And linguistics, Apocalypse, Early modernity, Language, Literature, Renaissance, Rome, Vernacular, War
Publication Number: 3524266
ISBN: 978-1-267-58560-8
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