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Gian Paolo Brizzi

Professor emeritus

Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna

Curriculum vitae

1.   In 1970 I began my teaching and research career at the University of Bologna, first as holder of a scholarship and then as assistant in the Modern History department of Paolo Prodi, Roberto Ruffilli and Adriano Prosperi. From 1976 to 1977 I taught modern History first as lecturer and then from 1980 as associate professor ("professore associato"). Full professor in modern History from 1986, I moved to the University of Sassari where I taught at the Faculty of Education/teacher training Studies and from 1991 at the Faculty of Literature and Philosophy. In 1997 I moved to the University of Bologna where I've teach at the Faculty of "Conservazione dei Beni culturali" and naw at the Faculty of "Lettere e filosofia". Director of the FIRB and Prin projects. General Secretary of Centro interuniversitario per la storia delle università italiane; Director of the journal “Annali di storia delle università italiane”; Member of scientific board of the journal "Cuadernos del Instituto Antonio de Nebrija de Estudios sobre la Universidad", "Quaderni di storia dell'università di Padova". Director of the Department of Discipline storiche, antropologiche e geografiche, University of Bologna (from 1.11.2009).

2. Besides modern History, I have also taught History of schools and History of the Church for several years. I have managed departmental and Faculty libraries and have sat as president of graduate courses and of some University commissions. I am currently president of the graduate course in archive and library studies. I'm Director of the Archivio storico in the Bologna University; representative member of the Italy in the "Commission international pour l'histoire des Universités"; I'm Director of the historical journal "Annali di storia delle università in Italia".

2. In the research field, I have worked, and continue to work, with the European University Istitute in Florence, with colleagues at the EHESS (Dominique Julia), the Collège de France (Marc Fumaroli), and the CNRS (Luce Giard). I have taken part in inter-university research projects (40%) and have directed research programs funded by the CNR and other bodies (e.g. European Union, the Region of Sardegna, the Region of Emilia and Romagna, the Bologna city council). In 1987 I helped launch the Interdisciplinary Center for the history of the University of Sassari. In 1997, I helped set up the inter-university Center for the history of Italian universities (whose active members include the Universities of Bologna, Messina, Padua, Sassari, Turin, Pavia, Parma, Ferrara, Pisa, Siena, Aosta, Macerata, Milano Politecnico, Milano Statale, Molise, Teramo) and I'm currently its general secretary.

The researchers will investigate educational strategies, the cultural training of élites in Italy in the modern era and student flows as example of scientific exchange and cultural interaction. Particular attention will be paid higher education institutions like universities and colleges. The second part will draw on a series of chronologically differentiated case studies to examine the transition from the training to the exercise phase of political, social and economic leadership analysing two different situations: the role played by family-based strategies of the Venetian ruling class in cultural, political and economic decisions in the second half of the XVth century; the relations between groups and institutions driving cultural and artistic-intellectual development in Lombardy in the XVII-XVIIIth centuries and the broader context of a collective system analysed starting from its consolidated socio-economic élites.

3. Research


a. Educational strategies and processes of formation of the ruling class in the modern age.

Within the framework of studies on the formation of the modern state, my attention has been mainly focused on those educational institutions which, starting from the mid-XVIth century, set themselves up to meet the demand for culture and qualitatively new 'technical' skills. In particular, my studies have focused on an educational institution that developed in several European countries from the end of the XVIth century and which tackled the problem of educating and training the future members of the ruling class: the "collegio dei nobili". By analysing the educational formulae, the cultural models and the behavioral stereotypes served up for those attending these colleges, I tried to illustrate some of the factors that helped the nobility to maintain, virtually unchanged, its political and social sway until the ancien regime finally began to break up.

See especially:

G. P. Brizzi, La formazione della classe dirigente nel Sei-Settecento. I 'seminaria nobilium' nell' Italia centro-settentrionale , Bologna, Il Mulino, 1976;

G. P. Brizzi, Un' istituzione d' antico regime tra rivoluzione e restaurazione sociale: il collegio di Modena , in Reggio e i territori estensi dall' antico regime all' età napoleonica, a cura di Marino Berengo e Sergio Romagnoli, Parma, Pratiche editrice, 1979, 557-582;

G. P. Brizzi, A. D' Alessandro, A. Del Fante, Università, Principe, Gesuiti. La politica farnesiana dell' istruzione a Parma e Piacenza (1545-1622), Roma, Bulzoni, 1980.    



b. Literacy in Emilia Romagna during the 18th Century

 Adopting some of the methodological suggestions provided by the studies of F. Furet, L. Stone, J. Goody e D. Julia, I coordinated some extensive research on scholastic institutions and the modalities for gaining access to written culture in the XVIIIth century. From a methodological point of view, I sought to underline the interplay and correlations between the history of schools and the political, economic and social environment of the time, leaving to one side the more traditional interpretative models that have for long restrained research into the history of pedagogy. The period under question, the XVIIIth century, when the problem of education came firmly to the center of the cultural debate constituting one of the key planks in the policy of reform, brought a whole series of issues to my attention to enrich my study. The study took the form of a systematic census of the sources and looked at all the municipal, State and ecclesiastical archives of the Emilia-Romagna region (local council minutes, teaching contracts, proceedings of church visits, inquiries, reform plans, class registers, etc.). This made it possible to carry out a systematic examination of the scholastic institutions operating in that area (local municipal schools, colleges, seminaries) and of the more informal educational vehicles (parish schools, traveling teachers, tutors, etc.) limited to imparting elementary and secondary education. By identifying the areas with schools and carrying out a comparison with the apparently static situation in the church-administered areas, it was possible to assess the significant results of the schools policy forged by the leading reformers in the Emilian dukedoms. The research then turned to studying actual schooling processes, comparing the extent of schooling to the levels of illiteracy in the adult population to see whether the old regime's schooling model was able to guarantee the different social classes access to written culture.

G.P. Brizzi (cura), Il catechismo e la grammatica. I:Istruzione e controllo sociale nell' area emiliana e romagnola nel '700, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1985; II: Istituzioni scolastiche e riforme nell' area emiliana e romagnola nel '700 , a cura di Gian Paolo Brizzi, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1986;

G.P. Brizzi, Scuola e istruzione popolare dall' età della Controriforma al secolo dei Lumi, in Storia dell' educazione, a cura di Egle Becchi, Firenze, La Nuova Italia, 1987, p. 73-87;

Riforme scolastiche e domanda di istruzione , in Istituzioni scolastiche ed organizzazione dell' insegnamento nei domini estensi nel XVIII secolo, Reggio Emilia, 1983, 53-98 (Contributi, XI-XII)


c. Jesuits and education

The jesuits and, in particular, the role they played in secondary and higher education is another field of research I have for some time been conducting. My attention has focused both on the teaching models the jesuits developed through long and hard comparative/experimental work, as witness the Ratio studiorum, and the scholastic and educational institutions they set up everywhere as of the mid-XVIth century.

G.P. Brizzi (cura), La 'Ratio studiorum'. Modelli culturali e pratiche educative dei Gesuiti in Italia tra Cinque e Seicento, Roma, Bulzoni, 1981

G.P. Brizzi, Studia humanitatis' und Organisation des Unterrichts in den ersten italienischen Kollegien der Gesellschaft Jesu, in Humanismus im Bildungswesen des 15. und 16. Jahrhunderts, a cura di Wolfgang Reinhard, Weinheim, Verlag Chemie, 1984, p. 155-170

G.P. Brizzi, Les jésuites et l'école en Italie (XVIe-XVIIIe siècles), in Les jésuites à la Renaissance. Système éducatif et production du savoir, sous la direction de Luce Giard, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1995, p. 35-53

G.P. Brizzi, El modelo de los Jesuitas en la Epoca moderna, inL'Université catholique a l'epoque moderne. De la reforme à la revolution, 16.-18. Siècles. Université, eglise, culture. Actes du troisieme symposium, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico, 30 avril - 3 mai 2003, Pierre Hurtubise ed., Paris, FIUC, 2005, p. 37 - 59  

d. University: institution and society

In recent years I have devoted a good deal of time to the history of Universities in the modern era, focusing on issues like: the history of the institution, student presence, the role of the universities vis-à-vis doctrinal control and social discipline, the university colleges, the smaller European universities, the peregrinatio academica, studied both from a quantitative - attendances and for how long at the Italian Universities - and qualitative - places and people frequented, etc. - point of view, especially via an analysis of the libri amicorum.


G.P. Brizzi (cura con Jacques Verger), Le università dell' Europa, vol. I-VI, Milano, Silvana editoriale, 1990-1995;

G.P. Brizzi (cura con  P. Del Negro - A. Romano) Storia delle Università in Italia, vol. I-III, Messina, Sicania by Gem, 2007

G.P. Brizzi (dirige), Annali di storia delle università italiane, I (1997)-…….. (periodico)

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