The disciplining of historical scholarship : Matteo Egizio, Naples and the Italian 'Republic of Letters', 1700-1734
Title: The disciplining of historical scholarship : Matteo Egizio, Naples and the Italian 'Republic of Letters', 1700-1734
Author: MITHEN, Nicholas
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2018
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
This thesis is primarily an enquiry into the production of historical scholarship on the Italian peninsula in the first three decades of the 18th Century, with a specific emphasis on Naples and the Italian South. As a point of entry this study draws upon the passive correspondence of the Neapolitan lawyer and scholar Matteo Egizio. Its method is strategic rather than exhaustive: it argues that during the early 18th Century networks of Italian scholars sought to systematically reform how history was written, how the past was understood and related to the present, and how scholarship worked and related to other realms of life. Working collaboratively, groups of Neapolitan and Italian scholars aimed to enforce a specific method, epistemology and sensibility upon the writing of history and the production of scholarship. Building upon the humanist tradition, this entailed a critical approach to history, valuing empiricism and certainty in factual knowledge, challenging speculation and prejudice, and opposing the excesses of universalism, rationalism, dogmatism as well as Pyrrhonic scepticism in historical thought. This amounted to a coordinated attempt to discipline the production of historical scholarship. On the one hand it aimed to insulate historical scholarship from the encroachment of ideological bias, demarcating the writing of history, in a limited sense, as a distinct realm of learning. At the same time, the disciplining of scholarship made history a powerful source of authority, able to construct and deconstruct politicaljurisdictional and theological-ecclesiastical arguments. Between these two tendencies, the generalization of historical criticism in the early 18th Century animated tensions between the intrinsic and the instrumental value of historical argument, as well as between the particular and the general meaning of historical truth. An exposition of these conflicts is the subject proper of this thesis.
Defence date: 06 July 2018; Examining Board: Professor Ann Thomson, European University Institute; Professor Jorge Flores, European University Institute; Professor John Robertson, University of Cambridge; Professor Girolamo Imbruglia, Università degli studi di Napoli "L'Orientale"
Type of Access: embargoedAccess