Alessandro Benassi

Alessandro Benassi

Melville J Kahn Fellow
The Cynthia’s Face on the Body of the Moon. The Poetic Imagination and the Scientific Discoveries



Alessandro Benassi received his PhD in Italian Literature from the Scuola Normale Superiore in 2016. He was Research Fellow at the Scuola Normale, Lecturer in Italian at the University of Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3, and he obtained scholarships from the University of Fribourg and the Casa de Velásquez in Madrid. His research centers on Renaissance and Baroque Literature, focusing on the rhetorical connection between visual and verbal codes and between poetry and science. His publications include the monograph La Filosofia del Cavaliere. Emblemi, imprese e letteratura nel Cinquecento (Pacini Fazzi, 2018).

Project Summary

The scientific revolution in the seventeenth century did not simply amount to the discoveries or methodological and epistemological innovations of pure sciences, but effectively translated into the spreading of new imagination. Under this perspective, analysis of the scientific discoveries’ impact on poetry and arts seems particularly urgent and fruitful. The repertoire of images and motifs that become available to poets and artists demonstrate how the new aesthetic and epistemic principles and patterns are conceived in poetic forms describing the sky, according to illustrious models based on stylistic features codified in a well-defined thematic selection. This project aims to analyze the poetic and rhetorical tendencies that collapse or combine in the seventeenth-century poetry, focusing on the works of the professor of mathematics and casuistic moralist Vincenzo Figliucci, S.I. (1566-1622). The study of his Stanzas Over the Stars and Sun Spots (Rome 1615), Moralium Questionum Libri (Lyon 1622) and the manuscript Praefationes in Laudem Mathematicarum Scientiarum, together with the Jesuits’ emblematic production, will show the dynamics of coexistence, assimilation, and control of themes related to scientific discoveries within the boundaries of the didactic, moral, and paraenetic mission of the Society of Jesus.