Three scholars who study the genre of press relations were the protagonists of the international seminar The reports on natural disasters between Italy and Spain in the seventeenth century, held on 23rd June 2023 at the Department of Humanities of the University of Naples Federico II. Mónica Martín Molares, a linguist specializing in the processes of the translation of this genre between Italy and Spain (Universidade da Coruña), and Jaime Galbarro García, a scholar of the ancient book (Universidad de Sevilla) compared their research and surveyed their perspectives with Valentina Sferragatta, a member of the DisComPoSE group.
The event, organized by Domenico Cecere and Antonietta Molinaro, was coordinated by Gennaro Schiano, who emphasized the centrality of an interdisciplinary investigation of this literary and editorial genre for the study of some aspects of natural disasters, such as the reconstruction of information and narration of the catastrophe, the circulation and dissemination of news, and the construction of a shared memory of culture from the centers to the peripheries of power.
In his speech, Huracania ibérica XVII, Jaime Galbarro García focused on hurricanes, observing how the naming of air storms is sometimes ambiguous or inaccurate in the sources due to the extraordinary nature of this disaster and the frequent occurrence of other disastrous events. Through a series of seventeenth-century examples, he showed how the news of the disaster was constructed and disseminated, first in Spain and then in the European and extra-European territories of the Empire.
He also illustrated the interesting interweaving of institutional and non-institutional sources necessary for the reconstruction of the event and the management of the disaster in the affected urban centers, as well as the relationship between the political involvement and tendentiousness of the report on the part of some authors.
Mónica Martín Molares analysed a corpus of reports from the seventeenth century drawn from the Catálogo y Biblioteca Digital de Relaciones de Sucesos, realized and constantly updated by the research group BIDISO, of which the researcher is a member. The question Were reports on disaster translated? An approach to Italian-Spanish sources, which gives the title to her presentation, reveals how relevant the remaining part of the corpus is for the study of the ways of circulation and dissemination of the news in the main territories of the Spanish Empire.
After examining the problems inherent in an investigation that relies on a not very extensive corpus, full of gaps and uncertainties, the scholar presented some of the most interesting elements that emerge from the comparison between these texts and their respective translations such as, for example, the treatment of place names, the religious integrations, the updating of the news and the perspectives of the witnesses-narrators.
Finally, Valentina Sferragatta brought to the attention the importance of Italian reports focused on disasters occurring in Italy and Spain, and she discussed the syntactic and textual aspects of these press reports on natural disasters of the seventeenth century.
Through the analysis of a rich sample of examples, the scholar examined some typical components of the compositional scheme of reports (the beginning, conclusion and epistolary elements) and the organization of the narration (the space-time and internal partitions) and then she dwelt on the three main textual functions of these documents: information, persuasion and emotion.