Call for Book Chapters for an Essay Collection. Religion and Ideas in Southern Italy: the Thin Line Between Erudition and Heresy. 16th-18th Century

Isabel Harvey's picture
Call for Publications
December 1, 2019
Subject Fields: 
Early Modern History and Period Studies, Intellectual History, Italian History / Studies, Religious Studies and Theology, Women's & Gender History / Studies

As part of the Spanish Empire, the Kingdom of Naples was not under the secular government of the Pope, but was intimately connected to its spiritual power. The lands of Southern Italy were a frontier space for the Counter-Reformation Church. Rome sent missions to the south in order to solve what they viewed as threats for the control of the Catholic faith: misuses of ecclesiastical benefits, lack of discipline among the regular clergy, errors of faith and heresies. This large-scale attempt at daily control opened many encounters and frictions between secular authorities and the ecclesiastical hierarchy, especially when the time came to settle the distinction between what would be an effervescent intellectual life and what would instead be pursued and condemned as an incubator of heretic thought. 


At the 2019 conference of the Canadian Association of Italian Studies, we presented a successful trio of panels about the issues around religion and ideas in Southern Italy. We are now developing an edited collection on this topic. We wish to explore the problems around the circulation and the diffusion of ideas in Southern Italy during the Early Modern Period, in relation to its religious context. This religious context is understood according a broad definition: clergy and institutional Church, but also religion as a lived experience in the daily life. 


This call for book chapters invites abstracts that address issues of intellectual life and ecclesiastical control in Southern Italy during the Early Modern period. We are particularly interested by the following topics:


  • Disputes between secular and Church authorities
  • Ecclesiastical control of books/libraries
  • Boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable writings
  • Religion and ideas in parishes/role of lower clergy
  • Intellectual life in religious orders (male and female)
  • Cultural environments in southern cities
  • Circulation of ideas 
  • Circulation of books and writings
  • Roles of women in the diffusion of ideas/writings
  • Dialogue and exchanges between religions: Hebraism and Islam


We are particularly interested in papers that analyze an unedited, newly founded, or little-known source (manuscripts or printed books, letters, archival documents, visual art pieces), in papers describing a singular cultural and intellectual milieu and giving attention to prosopographical reconstructions, or papers that present a social network analysis. Moreover, we are aiming to geographically equilibrate the essay collection. Consequently, we strongly encourage papers offering a sigh over the whole territory of Southern Italy, or analyzing cases from the actual Molise, Basilicata and Calabria. 


Papers should be around 10 000 words. The final deadline to receive complete papers is fixed at September 15th2020. 


Please email your abstract (max 300 words) and a short CV (max 1 page) to Isabel Harvey ( and Milena Sabato ( by the deadline of December 1st, 2019

Contact Info: 

Isabel Harvey