Paper in Motion: Methods and Case Studies for an Interdisciplinary Approach (November 15, University of Florence)

By |2020-01-07T21:23:09+00:00October 16th, 2019|Talks|

This seminar intends to use a series of case studies to exemplify the role of paper as (1) material medium for communication and consequently for the establishment of institutions, communities and the emotional ties that generated them, and (2) as a trope that denotes the nature and the function of the information, emotions and values it is used to record and convey. As the case studies will suggest, the different uses and functions of paper determined strategies and methods employed in the administration of the movement of people, ideas, and goods, and in the creation of complex networks (political, economic, religious, and intellectual) across the Mediterranean and beyond. There will be a particular focus upon the circulation of texts and documents involved in the articulation of discursive varieties for the expression of subjective emotional identities and for the establishment of the norms that regulated their public and social dimensions.   Prof José María Perez Fernandez's  original research started with an interdisciplinary approach to comparative literature, which then led to an interest in the relations between early modern literature and political [...]

Travelling men, travelling books. Hidden lives in the papers of an Orientalist librarian in Vienna (1608–1636) (November 15th, University of Florence)

By |2019-10-22T15:43:54+00:00October 16th, 2019|Talks|

We only see movements that are documented: we talk about "looking at movements” more than the movements themselves. How were these movements perceived, and how was the displacement narrated? Some information on these questions might be found in an unexpected source. Letters written by erudite scholars are a favoured source in the history of scholarship. But they can also reveal other presences, and the movements of travellers, exiles and refugees. The letters of Sebastian Tengnagel, imperial librarian in Vienna and a scholar of Arabic, Turkish and Persian, are one such case. Nowadays he is a ghostly figure, but in his day he was one of the leading figures of the “Republic of Arabic Letters”. Although he – as a librarian - is a sedentary figure par excellence, his letters are full of movement: of ideas, of books, and of people. In this seminar I will focus on the movement of people. Tengnagel’s correspondents range from giants of philology like Casaubon and Gruter to unknown, mist-shrouded figures from a shifting ecosystem: missionaries, adventurers, interpreters, slaves and prisoners of war, from the [...]

Humanist, Captive, Renegade: Three Modes of Displacement in the Ottoman Mediterranean

By |2019-09-14T08:21:59+00:00August 27th, 2019|Talks|

For the early modern period, it is virtually impossible to imagine an affective history of Mediterranean mobility without three essential bodies of sources: erudite travel accounts, captivity narratives, and inquisitorial apostasy trials. But as valuable as these sources are in documenting the experience of dislocation across the Mediterranean--and particularly between its Christian and Muslim halves--these are also distinctively European sources with no real equivalent in Ottoman Turkish. How can this apparent asymmetry be explained? What lessons does it hold? And what kinds of alternative sources does Ottoman history offer for reconstructing the experience of Mediterranean mobility "from the other side"? Giancarlo Casale is Chair of Early Modern Mediterranean History at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. A specialist in Ottoman history, he is the author of numerous studies on the history of Ottoman trade, travel and exploration, as well as the comparative history of empires, and the history of geography and cartography. His most recent projects include "Did Alexander the Great Discover America? Debating Space and Time in Renaissance Istanbul," forthcoming in Renaissance Quarterly (Fall 2019), and Prisoner of [...]

Migration, the Mediterranean and the fluid archives of modernity

By |2019-09-25T10:34:40+00:00August 18th, 2019|Talks|

Professor Iain Chambers's talk will seek to use the centrality of the question of migration to the making of modernity, along with the fluid archives proposed and sustained in the Mediterranean, to open up a critical discussion on the colonial constitution of the present. It will then seek to suggest how such entangled and subaltern histories disturb and displace the coloniality of existing methods in the social and human sciences. Iain Chambers teaches cultural and postcolonial studies of the Mediterranean at the University of Naples, "Orientale". Among his recent publications areMediterranean Crossings. The Politics of an Interrupted Modernity (2008), Mediterraneo Blues. Musiche, malinconia postcoloniale, pensieri marittimi (2012),Postcolonial Interruptions, Unauthorised Modernities (2017) Location, borders and beyond. Thinking with postcolonial art (2018), and La questione postcoloniale (with Marta Cariello, 2019). Further information is available here: