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Laboratoire italien. Politique et société, n°25/2020

Mots et gestes dans l'Italie de la Renaissance

Edited by Jean-Louis Fournel, Corinne Lucas Fiorato

Laboratoire italien

Words and gestures in Early Modern Italy

The Early Modern period explores, in many ways, the question of the diversity of non-verbal language: natural and uncontrolled, or constructed and codified. According to what parameters, with what objectives, do we question ourselves about this mode of understanding the world which, through direct or indirect non-verbal signs, is either seen as a universal means of communication, or is patiently studied as a form of technical mastery (from the designer to the surgeon, from the courtier to the actor, from the preacher to the lawyer or diplomat)? In the vast reorganisation of codes, prompted by new and emerging knowledge (archaeology, philology) and politico-religious upheavals, interactions between word and image lead new forms of perception of what is seen and what is said or written, based on new articulations. The stability of writing and drawing, more assertive and able to reach a wider audience (through printing and engraving), and the inherent instability of gesture, which is sometimes fleeting and often temporary, lead to a friction between words and gestures, a game of appearances and signs, surface and depth, with the new status of the image (with devotion through illustration) and multiple arrangements of words, gestures and voices in the inventiveness of secular theatre, or in diplomatic and legal practices, fed by the abundant and experimental diversity of words to convey the nuances of gesture.