Re-assessing the “Scourge of Princes”: A Discussion on the Companion to Pietro Aretino

When and Where

Thursday, October 13, 2022 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm
Muzzo Family Alumni Hall
121 St Joseph St, Toronto, ON M5S 3C2


Marco Faini, Paola Ugolini


Pietro Aretino was one of the most intriguing and innovative figures of sixteenth-century European culture. A self-made man, Aretino reached a wide fame through his masterful creation of a public persona and his ability to exploit the printing press. Although Aretino is mostly known for his obscene production, this represents only a portion of his literary output. Aretino was the author of hagiographic works, of dialogues on the court, of satires, of comedies (and a tragedy) and, most importantly, of six volumes of letters which showcase his acquaintance with artists, intellectuals, princes, cardinals, kings, and emperor Charles V. A refined connoisseur of the arts, Aretino kept abreast of the developments of Italian vernacular culture in the first decades of the sixteenth century, often setting new trends. Finally, Aretino’s numerous religious works set him at the core of sixteenth-century religious discussions.

The Companion to Pietro Aretino gathers nineteen essays from distinguished scholars from across various disciplines, from art history to musicology, from the history of the book to literary history, capturing Aretino’s complex and multifaceted artistic personality and offering a much-needed re-assessment of his contributions to early modern Italian culture. In this talk, after briefly introducing Pietro Aretino and his world, we will focus on some of the most innovative features of Aretino’s works that emerge from the Companion, such as his self-fashioning, his interactions with his patrons and those in power, his relationship with the arts and artists, and his clever use of the printing press.

Paola Ugolini is Associate Professor of Italian in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and Affiliate Faculty in the Department of Global Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University at Buffalo. She is the author of The Court and Its Critics. Anti-Courtly Sentiments in Early Modern Italy (University of Toronto Press, 2020), and the co-editor (with Marco Faini) of the Companion to Pietro Aretino (Brill, 2022). She has published articles on Ludovico Ariosto, Gaspara Stampa, Pietro Aretino and early modern satires.

Marco Faini is Assistant Professor of Italian in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University at Buffalo (SUNY). He has held fellowships at the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, at the University of Cambridge, and at Villa I Tatti. The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. He is the co-editor of A Companion to Pietro Aretino (Brill, with Paola Ugolini) and Le doute dans l’Europe moderne (Brepols, with Élise Boillet). He is the author of Standing at the Crossroads. Stories of Doubt in Renaissance Italy, forthcoming with Legenda. His book on Pietro Bembo, L’alloro e la porpora. Vita di Pietro Bembo (Rome, 2016, 2018) has been translated into English and French.

*Please note that this event will be livestreamed on YouTube here:

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