Rethinking Lyric Communities

The Center for Italian Studies at Notre Dame participates in the project Rethinking Lyric Communities, funded by the Oxford-Berlin Research Partnership and the Christ Church Research Centre, Oxford. Whether in relation to the circulation of poetic forms across different languages and traditions globally, to the envisioning of local, national and transnational discursive communities, or to the negotiation of poetic filiations and social positions, lyric poetry has offered a favorable site for inquiry into community formation and its politics. The premodern section of the project examines the relation between lyric poetry and community from the 12th to the 17th centuries in a global perspective, looking at lyric poetry not only in its dimension as a written text, but also as a complex event that extends to oral, aural, visual, and kinetic dimensions. This project aims to explore how lyric poetry, as a particular use of language, facilitated or contributed to community formation in premodern worlds, and the ways in which a variety of social, political, religious and intellectual relations were negotiated by means of lyric poetry in the Middle Ages and in the early modern period in Europe and beyond. Can lyric poetry, intended as a transhistorical and transcultural use of language, help us to conceive of forms of community not based on pre-established identities, such as group, knowledge system, interpretive strategy, interest, position, or practice? These questions are necessarily situated at the intersection of cultural and material history on the one hand and literary studies and theory on the other; they also require us to adopt a transnational perspective.

The project was devised and is coordinated by Francesco Giusti (Oxford). Its premodern branch is co-coordinated by Laura Banella (Notre Dame). The project thus far has entailed collaboration between the University of Oxford, the Freie Universität Berlin, the ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry, Bard College Berlin, and the University of Notre Dame, gathering scholars from across Europe and the United States.


The project features a series of panels, workshops, and conferences:

  • Conference Lyric Communities: Conflict and Assent, Freie Universität, Berlin, 3-5 July 2024

  • Conference Rethinking Lyric Communities in Premodern Worlds, Christ Church, Oxford, 20-21 June 2023

  • Panel Rethinking Lyric Communities, 4th biannual conference of the International Network for the Study of Lyric, Poetry. Experience. Attention, University of Oslo, 6-8 June 2023

  • Panel Rethinking Lyric Communities, 9th congress of the European Society of Comparative Literature, Imagining Inclusive Communities in European Culture, Sapienza University of Rome, 5-9 September 2022

  • Workshops Rethinking Lyric Communities I, Christ Church, Oxford, 23 June 2022, and Rethinking Lyric Communities II, ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry, 5 July 2022


Project’s publications:

  • Rethinking Lyric Communities in Premodern Worlds, eds. Laura Banella, Francesco Giusti, and Nicolas Longinotti, Special Issue of the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Issue 56.1 (forthcoming in 2026).

  • Invention, Reenactment, Exchange: Lyric Communities in Medieval and Early Modern Italy, eds. Laura Banella and Francesco Giusti, Special Issue of Italian Studies, Issue 80.2 (forthcoming in 2025).

  • Rethinking Lyric Communities, eds. Irene Fantappiè, Francesco Giusti, and Laura Scuriatti. Berlin: ICI Berlin Press (forthcoming 2024).