Tarocchi as Renaissance Memory Places
Title: Tarocchi as Renaissance Memory Places
Author: NEDELEA, Patricia
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2012
Series/Report no.: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
Why were the Tarocchi cards invented? Historiography gives two disjunctive answers: gaming and fortunetelling. This thesis offers a third original answer. Tarocchi as Renaissance Memory Places shows that these figurative playing cards, invented during midquattrocento at the courts of Milan and Ferrara, were mnemonic systems created for educational purposes such as the remembrance and reconstruction of the past (reminding of the family biography and genealogy, the moral values reflected through virtues and mythology). They were influenced by and influenced the contemporary mnemonic literature, while opening the European pedagogical cards tradition. The following variant of cultural history offers an eclectic, comparative and crossdisciplinary approach, being a meeting place for history and literature, art of memory and gender, visual and textual analysis. The analysis focuses on two major aspects of the art of memory in relation to the Tarocchi cards: the visual content and the decks formation. These two aspects do not exclude, but complement each other. The content, the Tarocchi imagery, as chapters 4 and 5 will show, is moral, pedagogical and genealogical. Chapters 6-11 look mostly at the formation of the decks, arguing that they were mnemonic systems. The thesis is moving from a more generic understanding of “memory” (chapters 4 and 5), to a particular, technical understanding of the “mnemonics” (chapters 6-10) and then focuses on the very specific aspect of mnemonic games (chapter 11, dedicated to the Appropriati lists). The chapters differ in respect to both subject and methodology. The decks discussed are from quattrocento. Chapter 11 makes a chronological exception, including primary sources from cinquecento to settecento.
Defence date: 12 July 2012; Examining Board: Professor Martin Van Gelderen (EUI) - Supervisor; Professor Luca Mola (EUI); Professor Evelyn S. Welch (Queen Mary, University of London); Professor Gherardo Ortalli (Ca’Foscari University of Venice).
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