Empire of Letters

Littérature, Table ronde, Roma/online

Entrance: Via Liguria 20
Take the Book – Spaces for Art and Science

Littérature, Table ronde

Entrance: Via Liguria 20
Take the Book – Spaces for Art and Science

The moderated discussion will be held in English and it can be followed online. 
Please register here to participate in Rome.
Please register here to follow the event online.

Getting work published is one of the main activities that artists and researchers have in common. The expectations, however, toward what a book could potentially be and the objectives associated with the act of publishing vary considerably. Researchers from all disciplines usually work under high pressure to advance their academic careers by way of publishing new insightful research in journals, anthologies, and in the form of monographic contributions. Artists, on the other hand, are less constrained by the limitations of what constitutes highly standardized publication formats. They challenge accustomed conceptions of the book, experimenting with materials, designs and different ways of presenting.

The book constitutes a sort of common space in which interaction is possible: surely, interaction with the book, its shape, and the modes of expression it permits, but it also figures as a point of reference, a common playground that connects different actors involved in the business of making books. In its many manifestations, the book can be construed as an intellectual challenge to be mastered, a cultural artefact to be cherished, a toolbox to be played around with, a carrier of ideas, imaginaries and information to be consumed, or as an opportunity to exhibit and showcase collaborative endeavors. There are indeed many ways of thinking of the book in view of both its tactile-experienceable qualities and the more notional-abstracting dimensions that describe its conception and contents.

This encounter is part of Take the Book – Spaces for Art and Sciencea series of three events that will take place during November and December 2021 entirely devoted to the book, between history, art and science.

Empire of Letters – The Construction of Memory and the Self

The image of the closed book represents par excellence someone who somehow remains inaccessible to others and is therefore difficult to read. Opening the book, however, provides an opportunity to appreciate the powerful rhetorical and editorial tools that outline the construction of the self. Focusing on several examples of letter collections and the question of the publication of correspondence, the panel explores the ways in which the memory of historical figures has been shaped and continues to be reshaped through the use of personal correspondence. The discussion focuses on the complex layers of meaning that link the relationality of individual letters with the representative function of the collection.


Ruth Morello (University of Manchester), The construction of the self and the projection of influence in Cicero and Plinius’ letters

François Rosset (University of Lausanne), On the issue of publishing correspondence, Swiss examples form the 18th and 19th centuries

Karen Burch (Royal Holloway University of London), Reconstructing the Self: Correspondence Networks in the Ridolfi Collection

Moderator: Stefano Jossa (Università degli Studi Niccolò Cusano, Rome / Royal Holloway University of London)

In collaboration with Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK).

In accordance with current regulations, the public is required to present a Covid Green Certificate at the entrance in order to access the event. This includes one of the following:

  • • You have received the anti-COVID-19 vaccination, with proof that you have received the first dose of vaccine at least 15 days previously or that you have completed the vaccination cycle;
  • • Recovery from COVID-19 within 6 months prior to the date of the event;
  • • Present a rapid antigenic or molecular test with a negative result within 48 hours prior to admission.