The AFFRICA project aims to offer a digital edition of Book I of Petrarch's Africa accompanied by new translation and to initiate renewed readings of the work from the angle of receptionreception of the classics in the work and reception of the work from the first humanism to contemporary issues. 

The languages ​​of the conference are English, French and Italian.

From the very outset of his career Petrarch had conceived a poem based upon Scipio Africanus’s triumph over Carthage during the Second Punic War as his epic masterpiece to rival Virgil’s Aeneid. Yet Petrarch never finished his Africa, much to the chagrin of his patrons and friends. Published posthumously, with occasional exceptions, this disenchanted and uneven account of Rome’s global victory, with its philosophical, spiritual, lyrical, and dramatic passages, was quickly eclipsed by Petrarch’s other works. 

This international conference brings together specialists from a range of disciplines to explore this neglected work in relation to antiquity and within its contemporary setting, to study the way it was immediately received and later interpreted, and to propose new readings at the crossroads of poetics, philology, and literary, cultural and political history.

Almost forgotten from the sixteenth century onwards, the Africa was only translated piecemeal into the vernaculars during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. At the turn of the twentieth century scholars once again took possession of the Africa; most notably with Pierre de Nolhac’s Petrarch and Humanism (1892); and the first editions and translations of the entire work were produced in France and Italy. From that moment the reception of the poem expanded beyond academic circles and was unequivocally linked to the rise of Italian nationalism and imperialism. The poem was thus particularly diffused and quoted during the two decades of the fascist regime. The edition by Nicola Festa, which dates from this period (1926), published as the first volume of the national edition of the complete works of Petrarch, accompanied by a Saggio sul’Africa, has remained the single modern edition and almost exclusive point of reference for the Latin text. Yet, this edition has since been rendered obsolete by the discovery of seven manuscripts.

Since the 1980s, academics have again taken interest in the Africa; this is especially due to Vincenzo Fera’s work on the history of the text and, among many others, to the publications of Guido Martellotti, Michele Feo and Enrico Fenzi1. Recent editions (in France by Rebecca Lenoir and Pierre Laurens and in Germany by Bernhard Huß and Gerhard Regn have similarly facilitated access to Petrarch’s text. (Although an edition proposed for the I Tatti series, is sadly still lacking.) 

This conference is part of a project named "Affrica: Petrarch’s Africa - edition, translation, readings". This project has brought together a multidisciplinary team of researchers in regular meetings since September 2022 who are currently working on a digital edition ( 

By broadening this dynamic, this conference will renew approaches to Petrarch’s epic by crossing perspectives and providing new insights. We will not only evaluate the contributions of digital philology in relation to traditional philological approaches but also explore less traditional avenues by using the approaches adopted by Reception, Gender, and Postcolonial Studies within the narrative and construction of cultural memory.

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AUR's Professor Paul Gwynne's areas of research focus on late fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century Italy; the rise and diffusion of Italian Humanism. These subjects are reflected in a trilogy of monographs that review the production of Neo-Latin poetry in Rome from 1480-1580: Poets and Princes: the Panegyric Poetry of Johannes Michael Nagonius (Brepols: Turnhout, 2012); Patterns of Patronage in Renaissance Rome: Francesco Sperulo, Poet, Prelate, Soldier, Spy (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2015); Francesco Benci and the Rise of Neo-Latin Epic (Leiden: Brill, 2016). The latter volume includes a complete edition, translation, and commentary of Benci’s epic, Quinque Martyres, and discusses Jesuit epics in a global context.  

Professor Paul Gwynne's bio