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Sperone Speroni and his Legacy (1508-1588). Literature, Philosophy and the Vernacular (A-Speroni)
Start date: Sep 15, 2014, End date: Sep 14, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This project centres on the intellectual biography and influence of Sperone Speroni (Padua, 1508–1588), one of the main Italian Renaissance promoters of studying Aristotle’s writings in the vernacular. Speroni, who for a time taught logic and philosophy at the University of Padua, maintained that philosophy should not be limited to Latin (the language of learned culture), but could just as easily be discussed in the language of the people. As the prince of the Academy of the Infiammati in Padua (1541), he required that lectures be delivered exclusively in Italian and exercised considerable influence on Alessandro Piccolomini and Torquato Tasso (among the most important figures in sixteenth-century Italian culture). His writings, particularly the Dialogo delle lingue, were also highly influential in France, including on Joachim Du Bellay’s Deffence et illustration de la langue françoise (1549)—that seminal work of French classicism—and on Claude Gruget, who translated the Dialogo into French (1551). Speroni symbolizes a new, evolving kind of literary figure: in his case, one who went from university professor to academy member to courtier in his later years. At the same time, his anti-humanistic programme proposed an attempt to mediate between high culture and consumer culture. Furthermore, Speroni acted as a model for professionalization and specialization within the field of literature, and particularly vernacular literature. This project aims to illuminate this original figure through a study of the contexts that marked his intellectual biography (university, academy, informal circles) and the Dialoghi (1542), including the work’s main themes (one very important one is that of language) and its descriptions of the main characters. A study of the dissemination of Speroni’s ideas will make an original contribution to the current wave of research on vernacular Aristotelianism, demonstrating the fundamental role played by the Academy of the Infiammati.
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