Research Seminar: Maria Sole Costanzo - "Alberti and Poetry"


Location: Special Collections, Hesburgh Library

The Italian Research Seminar

Maria Sole Costanzo (PhD candidate, Notre Dame) - "Alberti and Poetry"

Thursday November 16 at 5pm in Special Collections, Hesburgh Library

Many labels have been attributed to Leon Battista Alberti (1404 - 1472) but certainly not that of poet. Renowned as an architect for works such as Santa Maria Novella in Florence, the Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini and Sant’Andrea in Mantua, Alberti cultivated a wide variety of interests ranging from architecture to mathematics to the natural sciences, and to painting, earning himself the title of “First Renaissance Man.” Less well-known is Alberti’s poetry in the vernacular. He composed the first elegies and the first eclogue ever written in “volgare,” a remarkably inventive frottola, as well as more traditional forms, such as sonnets and ballads. Alberti’s humanistic desire not only to expand human knowledge but to make it accessible to the widest possible audience led him to become a champion of the Tuscan vernacular language, which he promoted by writing the first grammar of any modern vernacular language, the “Grammatichetta” (1438-1441) and by organizing in Florence a vernacular poetry competition known as Certame Coronario (1441). This research seminar aims to investigate how Alberti conceived of poetry and its role in society and his practice as a vernacular poet within the broader poetical landscape of the Italian Quattrocento, in the context of the Italian “Questione della lingua.”

Maria Sole is a second year Ph.D. student in the Italian Literature Program at the University of Notre Dame. In 2015 she started her collaboration with IDEA - Isabella d’Este Archive Project, for which she is now Contributing Researcher, as an intern at UC Santa Cruz, publishing on the platform the transcription of about a hundred of Isabella d’Este’s letters. The transcription became the basis for her dissertation Edizione critica del copialettere di Isabella d’Este dal marzo al novembre 1537, with which she earned her Master’s degree in Modern Philology at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan. Since the first year of her doctoral studies, she started looking into the contribution made by Leon Battista Alberti to the Italian Renaissance, within the broader picture of the Questione della Lingua. Her interests include vernacular poetry of the 15th and early 16th Century, Renaissance letter writing, and Digital Humanities.