Muses Moving North: the Network (MMNN)

Claude Lorrain, Apollo and the Muses on Mount Helicon. Boston, Museum of Fine Arts. Public domain.

Fourteenth-fifteenth-century Italian humanism changed the approach to the past by introducing a historicising approach to texts. The trademark of this new approach were the humanist script, very different from the contemporary “Gothic” script, and the material characteristics of the humanist book, both modelled on mainly eleventh-twelfth-century late Carolingian manuscripts. This media revolution was followed by another, the introduction of the printing press from mid-fifteenth century onwards, which made literacy accessible at a radically lower price to an unprecedentedly increasing public. These two media revolutions are comparable to the current transition from analogue to digital. Thanks to them, the new cultural paradigm of Italian humanism was spreading in mid-century from the Italian peninsula to Transalpine regions.

While Transalpine students were imbued with Italian humanism during their stays at Italian universities, bringing back ideas and books, Italian scholars found work e.g. in Poland and France, thus contributing to local and regional dissemination of humanist ideas and physical books. By the end of the fifteenth century Italian humanism had solidly established itself north of the Alps in the Empire and neighbouring regions as well as in Spain, France and England, soon penetrating Scandinavia as well. Both Reformation and Counter-Reformation contributed to the dissemination and consolidation of Italian humanism forcefully propagated by the printed book. The impact of the humanist book in this process is still underexplored compared to long-time research on the dissemination of Italian humanist texts, ideas, Renaissance art etc. north of the Alps.

The book historical network Muses Moving North aims to explore this process in particular from the following points of view:

I) Through which media were Italian humanist texts concretely transmitted north of the Alps? 

II) In what form were Italian humanist scripts (antiqua, humanist cursive, italica) disseminated north of the Alps in the period considered? 

III) In what form were the conventions of presentation of the Italian humanist book transmitted north of the Alps in the period considered? 

The network will host seminars and workshops to bring together scholars interested in the the role of book culture in the dissemination of Italian Humanism North of the Alps (c. 1450-c. 1650).

Founding members of the network: Lorenzo Amato, University of Tokyo; Stefania Fortuna, Università politecnica delle Marche, Ancona; Outi Merisalo (coordinator), University of Jyväskylä; Susanna Niiranen, University of Jyväskylä; Marianne Pade, University of Aarhus; Taneli Puputti, University of Jyväskylä; Bernd Roling, Freie Universität Berlin; Peter Sjökvist, University Library of Uppsala; Iolanda Ventura, University of Bologna; Benjamin Wallura, Freie Universität Berlin.

Calendar of Events


 22 October 2022


featuring papers by Patrizia Carmassi, Stefania Fortuna, Marianne Pade, and Peter Sjökvist. 

Programme here! 



12-18 March 2023

Thirteenth Book Historical Week




Researchers' Night

29 September 2023

Kirjoja! Kirjoja! Books! Books!

Hybrid event in Lähde B248 at 4.00-6.00 p.m. EEST (= 3.00-5.00 p.m. CEST) and on Zoom

featuring Jakub Kujawinski, Iolanda Ventura and Outi Merisalo

Register by 27 September 2023 by mail to outi.o.merisalo(a) to get the link.  Welcome!