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Portrait of a Man with a Roman Medal, Hans Memling, c. 1480
Art, History & Politics, Literature

“I cannot think of anyone but you”

Maria Savorgnan's Letters to Pietro Bembo

September 9, 2022
3:00 pm

In accordance with NYU Covid Safety Precautions, in order to attend in person, all audience members MUST:
– be 12+ years of age
– show a valid government-issued photo ID
– show proof of being fully vaccinated and boosted (if eligible)
– wear a well-fitted mask at all times

Mandatory RSVP

“Know that every day and every night I cannot think of anyone but you”
Maria Savorgnan’s letters to Pietro Bembo

A lecture by
Lina Bolzoni, Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa / NYU 

Respondent: Jane Tylus, Yale University


The amorous correspondence between Maria Savorgnan and Pietro Bembo (1500-1501) has reached us in two different versions. Whereas Bembo revised and rewrote his own letters for publication as part of his opera omnia when he was already a cardinal, Maria Savorgnan’s letters have reached us in their original versions. They offer us therefore a valuable testimony of the ways in which poetry and love intertwine, and of the ways in which the Petrarchist code and the fascination with portraits play an important role in the narration of the passions.

Conceived by Ida Caiazza (Marie Curie Fellow at New York University), Love and Letters in the Renaissance is a series of lectures and workshops that focus on women’s private writing and the wide array of emotions related to romantic love. The lectures feature international experts of Renaissance studies, Science, History of Emotions, and other fields. The workshops involve students, artists, and scholars in digital and public humanities projects about secret love letter exchanges between lovers.

These events are part of the research project Women Thinking Love. A Gendered History of Emotions in Renaissance and Post-Tridentine Italy (1500-1650). This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement no 101024624.

Lina Bolzoni is professor emerita in Italian Literature at the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa and Global Distinguished Professor at New York University. She has also taught in France (Collége de France) and the United States (UCLA, NYU, Harvard). She has been a fellow at All Souls College and Christ Church College in Oxford University. She is also part of the scientific committee of the Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana, and member of the National Committee for the commemoration of the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death. She is also a member of the Accademia dei Licei, and fellow of the British Academy. Her research interests include the relations between literature and philosophy in the 16th and 17th centuries, sacred and prophane oratory, the art of memory and its relations with literature and the visual arts, as well as the experience of reading. Her books, which have been translated into different languages, include La stanza della memoria (Torino 1995); La rete delle immagini: Predicazione in volgare dalle origini a Bernardino da Siena (Torino 2002, Premio Viareggio); Poesia e ritratto nel Rinascimento (Roma Bari 2008); Il cuore di cristallo: Ragionamenti d’amore, poesia e ritratto nel Rinascimento (Torino 2010); ll lettore creativo: Percorsi cinquecenteschi fra memoria, gioco, scrittura (Napoli 2012); and Una meravigliosa solitudine: L’arte di leggere nell’Europa moderna (Torino 2019, Premio De Sanctis). She has edited Giulio Camillo’s L’idea del theatro (Adelphi) and more recently La Commedia di Dante nello specchio delle immagini (Roma: Treccani, 2021). She has curated the following exhibitions: “La fabbrica del pensiero: Dall’arte della memoria alle neuroscienze” (Florence, Forte di Belvedere; 1990); Donne e cavalieri, incanti, follia. Viaggio attraverso le immagini dell’”Orlando Furioso” (Pisa, Centro Espositivo San Michele degli Scalzi, 15/12/2012 – 15/02/2013); and Orlando Furioso e le arti (Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome, 1/09 – 28/11, 2015). She collaborates with the literary supplement of the Italian journal Il Sole 24 Ore.

Jane Tylus specializes in late medieval and early modern European literature, religion, and culture, with secondary interests in 19th-20th century fiction.  Her work has focused on the recovery and interrogation of lost and marginalized voices –historical personages, dialects and “parole pellegrine”, minor genres such as pastoral, secondary characters in plays, poems, and epics.  She has also been active in the practice and theory of translation. Her current book project explores the ritual of departure in early modernity, especially how writers and artists sent their works into the world. She previously taught at NYU in Italian Studies and Comparative Literature, where she was founding faculty director of the Humanities Initiative, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She has been General Editor for the journal I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance since 2013.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions research fellowship programmeEuropean Union