Daniels R., O'Connor A., Tycz K. Italian Material Cultures

D. Popov


The translation presents excerpts from an article published in Italian Studies, the largest scientific journal devoted exclusively to the study of Italian culture in English and Italian. The article explores contemporary approaches to the study of the material environment and materiality, in particular — as applied to the study of Italian culture. Interest in the problem of materiality in the English-speaking research environment is largely associated with the spread of actor-network theory and the revision of the ontological status of things in culture. At the same time, other approaches are not excluded, leaving the field of material culture studies as an interdisciplinary space. Several trends can be identified in studies of the materiality of Italian culture. The first branch is connected with the concept of “consumption” and the analysis of various goods in their economic and symbolic dimensions. To a large extent, studies of consumer culture focus on studies of the culture of the Renaissance, on the assumption that it was at that time that the patterns and symbolic practices of this cultural phenomenon were conceived. The article includes a practical study of this topic based on the analysis of the artifacts of pharmacies of the Renaissance. Another significant area is the study of books and literature. In the English-speaking environment, in contrast to the Italian and Russian academic tradition, philology as a scientific discipline is not widely spread, and specialists from other areas are also engaged in text research. In addition to textual analysis, contemporary research focuses heavily on the materiality of the book itself — the study of materials, their origins, migration, the techniques required to process them. Various combinations of distinctive features of the books, among other things, formed readers' ideas about the significance of certain cultural characters and events. At the same time, Dante, Petrarch and Bocaccio still remain the central figures of research, which is largely due to the active funding of these studies, including those from the Italian state. Another large and less specialized branch of research is connected with the symbolic dimension of material objects. The article gives an example of such work on the study of the dynamics of the appearance, transformation and migration of the monuments of Dante Alighieri, which since the middle of the 19th century occupied a central place in the squares, acting as a symbol of the new united state, and over time began to lose their place as the center of the material environment of Italian cities, and in the symbolic space of Italian culture. The proposed methodologies should be considered as possible ways of working in the interdisciplinary space of materiality studies, which open up great opportunities in the study and understanding of Italian culture.

The translation was made according to the publication: Daniels R., O’Connor A., Tycz K. “Italian material cultures”, Italian Studies2020no. 2: 155–175. URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/00751634.2020.1750272


material culture; materiality; new materialism; thing theory; consumption; object mobility; Italy; Italian culture; Renaissance culture; Italian material culture


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.31312/2310-1245-2023-55-203-241


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