Research Seminar: “Poetry in Motion: Petrarch's Life in Writing” - Theodore J. Cachey (Notre Dame)


Location: Special Collections in the Hesburgh Library

The Italian Research Seminar

Poetry in Motion: Petrarch’s Life in Writing


The aim is to provide an account of the life and works, viewed through the lens of the author’s vocation as traveller or “peregrinus ubique” (a wanderer everywhere [Epystole 3.19.16]).  In order to transcend the alienation of the journey, the poet, “begotten and born in exile,” and in restless movement between places throughout his life, pursued in his writings no less restlessly an unstable equilibrium located somewhere between arrival and departure, shuttling back and forth between residences and literary works: between Avignon and Vaucluse, between the De viris and the Africa, between Naples and Parma, between the De vita solitaria and the De otio, between Milan and Venice, between the Bucolicum carmen and the Epystole, between Padua and Arquà, between the Canzoniere and the Triumphi.   This “betweenness” of Petrarchan place is a defining characteristic of his oeuvre and of its modernity.



Professor Theodore Cachey specializes in Italian Medieval and Renaissance literature, in particular Dante and Petrarch, the history of the Italian language, and the literature and history of travel. He has authored or edited several books, including Le isole fortunate; appunti di storia letteraria italiana (1994); Pigafetta's First Voyage Around the World (1995; 2nd revised edition, 2007); Dante Now: Current Trends in Dante Studies (1995); Petrarch's Guide to the Holy Land (2002), Le culture di Dante (2004), Dante and Petrarch: Anti-dantism, Metaphysics, Tradition (forthcoming), as well as essays and book chapters in Annali d'Italianistica, Belfagor, Intersezioni, The History of Cartography, Modern Language Notes, Schede umanistiche, and Rivista di letteratura italiana. He is founder and co-editor (with Christian Moevs) of the William and Katherine Devers Series in Dante Studies, and serves on the editorial boards of Letteratura Italiana Antica and Italian Studies: the Journal of the American Association for Italian Studies (AAIS).



The Italian Research Seminar, jointly organized by the Devers Program in Dante Studies and by Italian Studies at Notre Dame, aims to provide a regular forum for faculty, postdoctoral scholars, graduate students, and colleagues from other universities to present and discuss their current research. The Seminar is vigorously interdisciplinary, and embraces all areas of Italian history, language, and culture (from literature to film, from art history to music, and from anthropology to architecture), as well as perceptions of Italy, its achievements and its peoples in other national and international cultures. The Seminar constitutes an important element in the effort by Notre Dame’s community of Italianists to promote the study of Italy and to serve as a strategic point of contact for all Italianists.