Libertas libertina. Homosexuality and Libertinism in the University of Padova

PhD project supervised by Paola Molino and Mario Infelise (2019-2022)

Michele Visentin

Between the 16th and the 17th centuries, the University of Padova and some cultural circles of the city represented a major centre of dissemination of Libertinism ideas throughout Europe. This movement, even if very heterogeneous, is characterized by some common denominators, e.g. the impossibility to base ethics on religious dogmas, and the interest for direct observation of nature – including the human body.

How far did this cultural climate encourage a relative tolerance (or at least a moral indifference) for homosexuality?  And if so, did this relative tolerance influence the mobility toward Padua of Italian and European students, professors, intellectuals?

The hardest problem of this research is to identify the sources and to analyse them from an unusual perspective. For centuries the expressions of homosexuality have been simply effaced, except for the criminal law. Hence, the necessity to adopt an interdisciplinary approach to find the “echo” of dissident sexualities in different kind of texts and environments.