Heroic figures in calamitous times. Saints and institutions in the representation of disasters (16th-18th centuries) is a cycle of seminars organized by Gennaro Schiano and Milena Viceconte from the DisComPoSE team, held on14th-15th and 21st-22nd January 2021 in virtual mode, through the platform Google Meet.
The event allowed twelve young Italian and Spanish scholars to present their research on various aspects related to the narration of catastrophes which occurred in the territories of the Spanish Monarchy in the modern age. The speakers, although starting from different disciplinary perspectives, focused their attention on the heroic intervention by earthly or divine entities in a determined attempt to resolve the emergency.
The corpus of sources analyzed is different and heterogeneous: from popular literature to opera, from relaciones de sucesos to official accounts. Moreover, there is a variegated contemporary figurative production, in which the topos of the hero is often expressed in iconographic representations aimed at the exaltation of the Madonna and of the saints who act as intermediaries for the community afflicted by the calamitous event.
Two discussants participated in each session: in addition to offering initial feedback to the speakers, they stimulated, through their reflections, the debate among the numerous researchers present. Professor Françoise Lavocat, professor of Comparative Literature at the Université Paris 3-Sorbonne nouvelle, inaugurated the cycle of seminars with a lectio on the hero during the plague in the context of eighteenth-century France. Some final reflections on the representation of the hero of the disaster in modern and contemporary figurative culture were offered by Gerhard Wolf, director of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence.
The results of the meeting will be collected in a volume that will be published open access in English at the Federico II University Press, as part of the series Clio Essays on historical, archaeological and historical-artistic sciences.