Noble Sicily: The Aristocracy of Palermo with Dr. Valeria Viola

Noble Sicily: The Aristocracy of Palermo with Dr. Valeria Viola


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This seminar takes us back to seventeenth-century Palermo and inside the private family palace of a noble Sicilian family. Together with an expert on Baroque art and architecture, we will learn about the relationship between privacy, devotion, and family life and investigate the role of residential architecture in producing this relationship. We will compare the domestic and institutional spaces experienced by the two spouses to explore the concept of privacy as a desire for secrecy. To do this, it will examine the term 'segreto' (secretum) as producing inclusion and exclusion.

 

Although sharing the same family palace, Giuseppe Alliata, Prince of Villafranca (c.1685-1727), and his wife, Maria Anna (1695-1777), lived separate lives. Even in their faith, gender played a role in their division. Like other nobles in their day, they were members of elitist religious associations affiliated with the Catholic church. The Consorteria delle Raccomandate dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the Compagnia dei Bianchi dedicated to the Most Holy Crucifix were segregated by gender and shrouded in secrecy.

 

 

Led by an art historian, Valeria Viola, this interactive seminar will explore gendered spaces and the aristocracy’s roles within those spaces. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased grasp of how roles were subtly negotiated in the eighteenth century.

 

Valeria Viola is an art teacher with experience in both architectural practice and research. After her bachelor's in architecture (1997) and her 2-year master's in religious art (1999), Valeria worked for 18 years as an architect specializing in restoration (1997-2015), while publishing nine essays on religious architecture and its relationship with the urban context, financially supported by the Abadir Art Academy (1999-2009) and the Theological Faculty of Sicily (2012-2015). In March 2020, Valeria completed her PhD programme in History of Art at the University of York (UK) with the thesis “Architecture, Devotion, and family life in Baroque Palermo”. The results of her research were published in five essays (2018-2020) and disseminated in several international conferences. In June 2018, she organized an international conference on ""The Superabundance in the Baroque"" and co-edited its proceedings (published in 2019). After having been awarded with the York Learning and Teaching Award in 2018, Valeria is an Associate Fellow at the Higher Education Academy. She has taught at the Department of Art History and the Centre for Lifelong Learning of the University of York (2017-2018), the Theological Faculty of Sicily (2007-2015, every other year), the Italian state school (2008 -2016) and the Abadir Academy (2005-2008).

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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