Medicine and Medieval Italian Lyric

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The exchanges between medical learning and the early Italian lyric tradition are rich and diverse, and can shed light on this fertile season in Medieval literature. With regard to the scientific and medical milieu of the 13th and 14th centuries, different lines of inquiry need to be addressed in order to better grasp the tendency of the coeval poetical production, which involved reception of Greek-Arabic scientific sources, translations and recuperation of texts, and original contributions in the vernacular.The ongoing debate in the professional spheres of physicians and universities reached a point of intense production and reception of texts and ideas, while at the same time poets were not merely taking on these debates with a passive attitude, but were actively contributing to these discussions with their poetical means, often taking sides and producing new ideas and theoretical frames. Scholars in the field tend to separate these two aspects, with the underlying assumption that real science has to be found in treatises, and that poetry just used some of these concepts.The session aims to bridge the gap between these two fields, to show how the history of science can benefit from the history of Medieval literature, and vice versa. The papers presented at this session will explore these exchanges in a broad chronological spectrum, and with attention to different authors and texts. From the Aristotelian frame of the poetic use of the heart in the Scuola Siciliana, through Dante’s own take on the medical issues of this time, and Cecco d’Ascoli’s critique of Dante’s understanding of free will by means of astrology and medicine, the session will close on Petrarca’s involvement in the question of body and soul in his Rerum vulgarium fragmenta.Matteo Pace