What is BIVIUM?

BIVIUM is a Horizon 2020 -Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action coordinated by Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and the University of Toronto (under Grant Agreement No 792225) for the period 2018-2021. This project aims to write a social history of doubt in Italy from the late 1400s to the 1560s. The project is timely since attention is increasingly focusing on the topic of doubt as a key concept in the shaping of European culture, thought, and identity, especially in connection with key issues such as religious tolerance and the rise of freedom of thought and conscience. In a period of tumultuous cultural, political, and religious change, traditional ideas and beliefs were shaken; at the same time, doubts arose about human reason and its powers. In our time, when the spread of ‘fake news’ has become a crucial issue and doubt is being used in political debate to both reinforce one’s position and undermine opponents’ ideas, investigating doubt as a state of mind, a practice of questioning official narratives, and a powerful tool to shape public opinion becomes paramount.

The expected results of the BIVIUM project are:

My project will produce a social history of doubt as it was practiced and experienced not only by intellectual élites but also by commoners. What is missing and has become urgent, is a work encompassing all forms and meanings of doubt and placing them into the peculiar Italian social and cultural context of the first six decades of the sixteenth century, marked by the outburst of the Reformation, and by the Catholic reformation (or Counter-Reformation). BIVIUM will seek to understand whether and to what extent doubt became an everyday experience in Renaissance Italy and entered Renaissance sociability. Investigating the realms of religion and philosophy I aim to write the first systematic history of doubt in Renaissance Italy.

Who are we?

Marco Faini is a Marie Skłodowska Curie Fellow in the Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage. I obtained my PhD in Italian in Literature. I have worked at the Universities of Urbino ‘Carlo Bo’ and of Bergamo. I have been a fellow at the Herzog August Bibliothek, at the University of Cambridge, at Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. I have taught at the University of Munster and at the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester. I am a specialist of Renaissance culture, with a special interest in devotional literature.

The supervisor of the project is Marco Sgarbi. Marco (Mantua, 1982) is associate professor of history of philosophy and vice-provost for communication and development at the Università Ca’ Foscari, Venice. He is the PI of the ERC Starting Grant 2013 on “https://marcosgarbi.wordpress.com/aristotle-in-the-italian-vernacular-rethinking-renaissance-and-early-modern-intellectual-history-c-1400-c-1650/Aristotle in the Italian Vernacular: Rethinking Renaissance and Early-Modern Intellectual History (c. 1400–c. 1650)". He has been a Jean-François Malle-Harvard I Tatti Fellow at Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies; Frances A. Yates Short-Term fellow at the Warburg Institute. He is the editor of Philosophical Readings, a four-monthly on-line journal, and of the Bloomsbury Studies in the Aristotelian Tradition. He is part of the editorial board of Lo Sguardo, Estudios Kantianos, philosophy@lisbon, Etica & Politica.

As partner institution, the Department of History at the University of Toronto supports my research with their expertise in the area of religious and social history. The supervisor in Toronto is prof. Nicholas Terpstra. Nicholas Terpstra will be the supervisor at the Department of History and at the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (CRRS) in the University of Toronto. Terpstra is Professor and Chair of History (teaching Renaissance and early modern social history) and is also a fellow of the Royal Historical Society of Canada. He has been a Visiting Professor at the Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, and at numerous international universities including Sydney, Haifa, Warwick, Tel Aviv, and Cambridge. From 2000 to 2009 he was Associate Director of the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies. He is an editor of the journal Renaissance Quarterly and a member of the executive board of the Renaissance Society of America. He is the author of five monographs and of several articles in peer-reviewed journals, and is the editor of ten edited volumes. His first monograph, Lay Confraternities and Civic Religion in Renaissance Bologna (Cambridge University Press, 1995), was awarded the Marraro Prize of the Society for Italian Historical Studies, while his more recent monograph Cultures of Charity: Women, Politics, and the Reform of Poor Relief in Renaissance Italy (Harvard University Press, 2015) received awards from the American Historical Association and the Renaissance Society of America for the best monograph in Italian history and Renaissance history, respectively. At the University of Toronto, he has been the main supervisor of 16 doctoral students, an examiner of 23 others, and a fields supervisor for a total of 46 doctoral students. Two of the scholars he supervised as postdoctoral fellows are now in senior tenured positions.