Vittoria Fiorelli (ENG)

Fiorelli photoProfessor of Modern History in the Department of Scienze della Formazione (Education Sciences) of University Suor Orsola Benincasa in Naples since May 2005 and qualified as Full Professor in 2012 National Scientific Habilitation.

Since 2003 she is scientific supervisor of the Institute Suor Orsola’s Historical Archive and from 2011 scientific director of the Interdisciplinary Center of Studies Margini e confini (CISMEC) in her University.

Ordinary member of the Accademia Pontaniana in Naples and of Società Napoletana di Storia Patria, member of the Scientific Commitee of the International Seminar of doctoral Studies History and Economy in the Mediterranean countries, she is associated to the Istitute of Studies on Mediterranean Societies – CNR.

She has coordinated many research groups, disciplinary conferences and scientific editions and is interested in cultural, social, religious history in Early Modern Europe with particular attention to Mediterranean and Ancient Italian States (XVI-XVII century).

Her main publications have focused on intellectual and social transformation related to devotional practices and ecclesiastical organization, Inquisition and religious congregations, charitable practices and institutions for assistance (hospitals, monasteries, confraternities etc.).

Publications related with the topic of nobility and education:

  •  ‘Scrigni di parole. Lettura e preghiera nella collezione libraria di un convento napoletano (secoli XVI-XVII)’, in Dimensioni e problemi della ricerca storica, 2/2008, pp. 39-57.
  • ‘Una scuola per le italiane. Adelaide del Balzo Pignatelli e il progetto di educazione per le donne moderne’, in Le donne che hanno fatto l’Italia, a cura di E. Bruni, Catalogo della mostra di Roma (7 dicembre 2011-20 gennaio 2012), Roma, Gangemi, 2011, pp. 87-91.
  • ‘La nazione tra i banchi. Il contributo della scuola alla formazione degli italiani tra Otto e Novecento’, a cura di V. Fiorelli, Soveria Mannelli, Rubbettino, 2012 and ‘Un popolo si desta. Educazione e formazione nella retorica postunitaria’, in ibid., pp. 191-207.
  • ‘Donne a Napoli dal matronage all’impresa della cultura’, in Atti del VI convegno internazionale della Società Italiana delle Storiche 2013 (in print).


Neapolitan Ladies: From Aristocracy to Liberal Upper Class

Nineteenth century was in Europe the time for nations’ gradual consolidation and in Italy this meant a complex process of reunification and the consequent transformation of models of noble education to modernity and social evolution. This historical specificity has led Italian scholars to look at modern schooling, primary element in the construction of identity, from a national perspective. Less attention has been given to the transnational cultural exchanging about instruction which continued to give its contribution to the growth of a wider and more tolerant community.

In this context, we propose the analysis of a liberal educational project intended to address upper class women on a path that would allow them to access the ruling public sphere and legitimize their active presence in a society in radical transformation.

In the nineteenth century Naples, refined capital and crossway of cultures, many aristocratic salons continued the tradition of Enlightenments’ “civilization of the conversation”. Cosmopolitan ladies and cultivated gentlewomen gave their contribution to transforming the social gatherings in meetings open to a civic and innovative relationship that originated from other European nations. Heir of these backgrounds, educated in music and literature, Adelaide Del Balzo with her husband Francesco Pignatelli, Prince of Strongoli animated a brilliant cultural circle where the model of aristocratic sociability gave way to a place for social and intellectual planning.

Supported by the Court circles of the newly formed Italian Kingdom, helped by the educator Antoinette Pagliara, the princess projected a training program for the girls coming from the upper class of a city that was no more a capital, forced to rethink its role. As well as Neapolitan aristocratic circles obliged to revise loyalty and political cultures, replacing the noble tradition of social distinction with a new way of projecting itself as a ruling class.


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