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From Spain to Rome: Fluid Topographies, Printing, and Urban Noir

Niall Atkinson (Chicago), The Fluid Topographies of Renaissance Rome.

Based on the concept of fluid topographies that I developed in my dissertation on Renaissance Florence, I propose to look at the urban transformations of Rome in the Renaissance though the lens of spatial disorientation. Fluid topographies, never fully fixed and inherently unstable, consider the symbolic dimensions and concrete reality of the built environment as a complex interaction of legislation, texts, itineraries, cultural memory, and other representational practices. In the case of Rome, this multi-functional, collaborative art of city-building is at the heart of understanding the rebuilding of the papal city not only as a program of papal renovatio, but also as a complicated network of physical and textual archaeologies. As a result, we find that the city was much more than a coherent plan but a larger more complicated series of spatial and temporal tactics whose effect was often a profound investigation of urban disorientation.

Stefano Gulizia (New York), Phenomenology of the Urban Sensorium in the Roman Celestina.

The readers of the 1506 edition of Celestina must rely on printed signifiers to recognize the places invoked by it and thereby translate the ‘Spanish’ locus of the action, to put it in Weimann’s terms, into the platea of its Roman reception. In this, this translation bears witness to a phenomenology of performance space: a process accentuating the act of stalking as a way to re-produce the cultural memory of transnational exchange. Exploring the activity of the Silber printing house in the sixteenth-century market of Campo dei Fiori, I consider some typographical aspects of an early modern archeology of embodiment, ranging from piracy to noir plotting, through newsletters. A Castilian museum of memorable sentences, Celestina was surrounded by a forest of religious, touristic and ephemeral media; as a result, the Roman imprint is a perfect case study of the articulation of perceptual knowledge unfolding within urban networks.

Marta Albalá Pelegrín (Princeton), Woodcutting the City: Urban Spaces in Early Modern Comedies.

Printed woodcuts accompanying early modern play texts are a privileged site to explore the representation of urban spaces and the suitability of private and public settings for the stage. By examining the close collaboration of architects, humanists, archaeologists, and printers, who worked together to enact the Vitruvian models of Alberti and Serlio, I first offer a material discussion of the architectural design of theatrical buildings and their connection to comedy as a genre, before addressing specific issues of urban patronage and power, and the depiction of marginal spaces and communities. As I argue, a bustling city like Rome, amidst urban refashioning and ephemeral architecture, left a representational mark into Spanish works either conceived or printed there, such as Torres Naharro's Propalladia, Delicado's Lozana Andaluza, and Rojas' Celestina, as well as several farcical and theatrical chapbooks.