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Tatiana Crivelli

Aliens in Arcadia

contribution to the COST-WWIH panel of the Chawton conference "Pride and Prejudices", July 2013.


Still very little is known about the many women registered among the members of the most prestigious Academy of Eighteenth Century Italy, Arcadia. Although this was the first multidisciplinary, with a strong focus on the Arts, European Academy to welcome women and explicitly elaborate admission's practices for them, only few protagonists, the most renowned, have attracted the critical attention of the scholars. Nevertheless, there are elements to indicate that an overall approach to the female contribution to the Academy, considered per se, as a complex cultural, literary and historical process, could be very productive. A few preliminary studies about women and Arcadia as a whole (Graziosi, Spaggiari and Crivelli) have drown, though under different points of view and not necessarily agreeing in their final evaluation of the results, an interesting picture of interdisciplinary connections and of an impressive interpersonal intellectual network.

In my contribution I'd like to explore the exemplary transnational dimension of this network, taking for the first time into account the non Italian component of the female Arcadian group between the foundation in 1690 and 1800. The database “Women in Arcadia”, where about 150 of the 438 registered names indicates a foreign origin, provides the data setting that will allow to produce statistical information (countries of origin, social status, activities, etc.). Such an extended admission’s practice rises also more fundamental questions about its own reasons, forms and cultural purposes, which I'll try to answer within the theoretical frame provided by the European COST Action WWIH, the one of the Arcadia representing a perfect case study of interactions within an international women's network.

SvD, January 2013

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