Revealing secrets. Rhetoric and medicine in the Italian renaissance literature, ca. 1550-1600

Geheimen onthullen. Retoriek en geneeskunde in de Italiaanse renaissanceliteratuur, circa 1550-1600
Start - End 
2018 - 2022 (ongoing)
Department of Literary Studies
Research Focus 



How are rhetoric and medicine combined in the early modern Italian literature? What role does the vernacular play? Which is the legacy of this literature? This project will contribute to answer to these questions by focusing on the wide-spread literature of Secreti, which was a popular genre of medical texts that peaked in Italy between 1550 and 1600 and aimed at providing the readers of any social class, gender, or age with an encyclopedic compendium of the medical knowledge for self-healing and preservation. The books of secrets collect medical remedies to cure any kind of illness and imperfection using also magic, astrology, and alchemy. Those texts gather, organize, and convey in an original way - using the vernacular as a language of medicine - a paramount knowledge on how to defeat epidemies, poisons, and other common diseases. 

Given its emphasis on communicating medical knowledge for a broad public and its popularity in the early-modern era, the Secreti genre is a most appropriate case study to start the exploration of the role of the Italian medical literature in early-modern Europe, which is the wider project that the Promoter (Prof. Teodoro Katinis) intends to implement at UGent.

This PhD position is intended as a first step for building a team of scholars who will work for Katinis’ project. With the Promoter’s supervision and thanks to the rich collection of medical texts kept in the UGent library (or in databases reachable through the library service), the PhD student will study in particular the introductory parts and the structure of the works of several Italian authors with the main goal of providing the first comprehensive study of the rhetorical strategies applied in those texts, their relation with the Italian debate on the vernacular as language of medicine, and their legacy in other cultural and linguistic contexts.



Phd Student(s)