By focusing on the presence, teaching and learning of the Italian language in England, my research will offer new insights into Anglo-Italian relations in pre-Elizabethan times. Building on my master’s research into Thomas More and the influence of the Italian Renaissance on English Humanism, I will show how politically and culturally influential people in England spoke and wrote in Italian and translated from and into Italian. And it will be demonstrated how cultural innovations and trends established by Henry VIII at his Court had long-term implications for England and set the pattern for the next hundred years and beyond. Key questions include:
To what extent was Italian widespread in sixteenth-century England? In which contexts were Italian words present (e.g. literature, music, visual arts, fashion, military science, ornamental gardening, gastronomy, medicine)? Was Italian taught informally in different social contexts frequented by Italians (e.g. churches, markets, printing houses, taverns)?
Who could speak Italian? What were the learners’ profiles and motivations? How were their social networks organised? Did they have interactions with Italians? Did they travel to Italy? Did they have a formal or informal education on Italian language?
Which teaching techniques and texts were used? Were these techniques and texts similar to those used for teaching other languages (e.g. Latin, Greek, French)? Were there early modern institutions of learning (schools, universities, Inns of Court) where Italian was formally taught?
Who were the Italian language tutors, masters, teachers, experts? What was their role in society? Did they have any specific technical or pedagogical training? Were they English, Italians or other immigrants? Were they organised in a community of teachers where they shared knowledge and practical experience?
At this time, a lively debate was taking place in Italy, la questione della lingua, aimed at codifying which vernacular Italian would be the most suitable as literary language. Was this debate important for tutors and learners of Italian? Did the tutors participate in the debate? How? Did this debate influence the development of early modern English?
Other Research Interests
Utopian and dystopian literature
Ideas of progress and globalisation
Renaissance art of memory and emblemata