Color portrait of the head of Rebecca Messbarger, sitting in an office in front of a bookshelf

Rebecca Messbarger

Rome Prize in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies
11 gennaio–6 agosto 2021
Professor of Italian, Affiliate Professor of History, Art History, Performing Arts, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Washington University in St. Louis
Titolo del progetto
Ghostly Light: How Criminal Corpses Animated the Italian Enlightenment
Descrizione del progetto

My new book project explores the still neglected Italian Enlightenment movement, or Illuminismo, within the framework of the gallows, which shaped major political, religious, aesthetic, and medico-scientific reforms across the Italian peninsula. Focusing on four cultural capitals: Bologna (a Papal state), Milan (ruled by the Austrian Habsburgs), Florence (under Grand Duke Peter Leopold), and Naples (Kingdom of the Spanish Bourbons), I aim to show that, notwithstanding their distinct cultural histories and modes of governance, for each, the criminal body was a recurrent touchstone for institutional transformation. In the singular collaborative milieu of scholars and artists at the American Academy, the Rome Prize would allow me to hone what I hope will be a critical new narrative of the Enlightenment Age.