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Italia e culture del Mediterraneo – Francesco Carapezza, “The painted ceiling of the Steri in Palermo: an illustrated encyclopaedia of medieval culture”.

The Italian Cultural Institute of Montréal is pleased to present, in the framework of the “Italia e culture del Mediterraneo”, the conference by Prof. Francesco Carapezza, “The painted ceiling of the Steri in Palermo: an illustrated encyclopaedia of medieval culture”.

March 22, 2018, 6pm – Free Admission
Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Montréal
1200 Av. du Dr Penfield
Conference in Italian

The painted wooden ceiling (1377-80) of the Sala Magna at Palazzo Chiaramonte or ‘Steri’ in Palermo, defined as a “figurative summa of all narrative literature of the Middle Ages” (G. Folena), is a unique monument in which European, Mediterranean and local art traditions meet. Since its discovery in 1899 it has been studied above all by archaeologists and art historians but also by Romance or Italian philologists such as Ezio Levi and Maria Bendinelli Predelli, who questioned themselves about the iconographic and literary sources of its numerous narrative scenes: stories of Tristan and Yseut, Helen of Narbonne, the Trojan cycle, Alexander the Great, Aeneas and Dido, as well as various biblical episodes, allegorical scenes and sequences of unidentified or no longer visible images. Recently, an infestation of termites has further damaged the ceiling beams, which are now undergoing a radical restoration, just in the year in which Palermo is the Italian capital of culture. In this talk we shall propose a virtual visit to the newly photographed (2009) painted ceiling, focusing on some scenes or images of problematic interpretation and discussing the hypotheses so far advanced on the overall project and meaning of the work.

Francesco Carapezza is associate professor of Romance philology at the University of Palermo. He studied in the universities of Palermo, Poitiers and Naples, and has carried out research projects at Princeton University and Goethe-Universität Frankfurt. His principal field of investigation is medieval lyric poetry, with a specific interest for its musical issues, but he also worked on arthurian verse romance, history of textual philology, and Sicilian philology. He has published Il canzoniere occitano G (Occitan Chansonnier G, 2004) and Ecdotica galloromanza negli Stati Uniti d’America (Galloromance Textual Philology in USA, 2005), together with a number of essays and review articles. He serves in the editorial boards of “Bollettino del Centro di studi filologici e linguistici siciliani” and online journal “Lecturae tropatorum”. He currently works on a book on the musical history of the troubadours and collaborates with a national research project called Old Occitan Corpus.

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