David Sebastiani: Plotting the Unknown: Reading Networks in the Early Modern Mediterranean

Tue April 11th 2023, 12:00 - 1:15pm
Wallenberg 433A

The Mediterranean has always been a place of trade and migration. Early modern diasporas imparted further impetus to these exchanges, fostering the circulation of people, books, and ideas. Some of those ideas opposed the doctrines of the three Mediterranean monotheistic religions and had thus to be disseminated covertly to escape censorship. This talk will focus on a series of texts originated in the Iberian Peninsula in the 15th century that popularized a radical form of skepticism. They were translated often anonymously into various vernacular languages and spread widely throughout a network of pirate editions and clandestine travelers. Given their content and the dissimulation strategies employed to distribute them, these texts appear often mysterious. This talk suggests that digital humanities tools, employed alongside traditional philological research, can help us address their secret character as well as offer a novel perspective on these radical networks. It also discusses the potentialities and limitations of using information technology in areas of historical research and literary analysis that are inherently characterized by missing data, uncertainty, and tentative conclusions.

This event is cosponsored with the Taube Center for Jewish Studies and the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies.

The presentation will include lunch and take place at the Stanford Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis in Wallenberg 433A. A Zoom link is available upon request from Center Manager, Jonathan Clark (jclark93 [at] stanford.edu (jclark93[at]stanford[dot]edu)).

About the Speaker 

David Sebastiani is a postdoctoral fellow at the Scuola Normale Superiore (Pisa, Italy). His research explores the cultural outcomes of the early modern diasporas. Currently, he is carrying on a project on migrant readers and the spread of radical ideas in the Mediterranean.