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Italian Students Present Senior Thesis Projects, Hold Symposium and Exhibition

December 12, 2022

On Tuesday, December 13, in Canaday 205 (the Special Collections Seminar Room), the Department of Transnational Italian Studies will host two events showcasing student research projects. Starting at 1:15 p.m., Elise De Biasio '23 and Lina Marsella '23 will present their senior thesis projects, focusing respectively on censorship in early print editions of the Orlando Furioso and on La Vaiasseide, a 17th-century Neapolitan mock epic poem that celebrates the lives and struggles of women domestic servants. 


Following the presentations, at 3 p.m., the department will hold a student symposium and exhibition entitled Epic Afterlives. The event will mark the conclusion of Luca Zipoli’s course Love, Magic, and Women Warriors: Renaissance Italian Epic, and has been organized by Zipoli in collaboration with the college’s Special Collections. Students will present the outcomes of the collaborative research activities that they have conducted upon some rare illustrated printed editions of Italian epic and chivalric poems which are preserved within Tri-Co Special Collections.

“This project got underway last August, at the very beginning of the fall semester. I had just arrived at Bryn Mawr as a visiting professor when I received an email by Marianne Hansen, the academic liaison for Rare Books and Manuscripts" recalls Zipoli. "She had found in the department’s website the description of my course on Renaissance Epic, and she kindly informed me about the presence of epic and chivalric editions within the college’s rare books.”

Soon after Zipoli visited special collections with Hansen, he started conceiving the idea of turning that collection of rare books into a collaborative, interdisciplinary and transnational research project, with the aim to assess the legacy of Ariosto and Tasso’s poems across periods, media and cultures.

"The students in my course were enthusiastic about the project and gave remarkable contributions to it, by looking at the poems that we were reading in class through the perspective of their diverse receptions. I am grateful to Marianne Hansen, whose assistance to the students’ first-hand research activities has been crucial during the whole process”, adds Zipoli.


With Epic Afterlives, students will show how the two masterpieces of Renaissance chivalric literature (Ariosto’s Orlando furioso and Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered) became an incredible source of inspiration not only for early modern readers but also for later global painters, engravers, and translators. The exhibition will feature one of the first illustrated edition of Ariosto’s poem (Venice, 1542) and the edition of Tasso’s epic illustrated by the Baroque painter Bernardo Castello (Genoa, 1617), but will also boast some modern cases, like the adaptations into comic books which appeared in Italy in the 1960s, and the series conceived in 2009 by Grazia Nidasio, supposedly the first female illustrator of Ariosto. Also, two rare copies on loan from Haverford and Swarthmore Libraries will be on displaythe reprint of the 1600 translation of Jerusalem Delivered by Edward Fairfax, dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I (from Haverford), and an Italian reproduction of the 1879 edition of the Orlando furioso engraved by the French artist Gustave Doré (from Swarthmore).

In their presentations, students will focus on five of the rare illustrated editions on exhibit to show how the major episodes of the two poems were trans-mediated across different periods, cultures and geographical boundaries.

"They will show how those artists do not simply translate the poems into new media but rather transform them by looking at those episodes through an innovative gaze, and in order to respond to a specific audience," says Zipoli.



Elise De Biasio ’23: “Horses and Hippogryphs: Battle Scenes in Gabriele Giolito’s Orlando Furioso

Eleanor Taylor ’25: “The Valgrisi Edition: Mapping Ariosto’s World”

Olivia Colace ’25: “The Imagery of War and Women, Magic and Morality in Tasso’s Gerusalemme Liberata

Giovanni Santalucia ’23: “The Furioso Reframed: Moral Direction in the De Franceschi Edition of Ariosto’s Classic”

Angelina Marsella ’23: “Magic and Fantasy in Doré’s Illustrations of Orlando Furioso


Transnational Italian Studies