"Litre de stampa son caliginose": The Role of Filippo da Strada (1450-1505) in the Debate on Printing in Renaissance Italy

Master's Thesis


In this thesis I intend to redefine the role of Lombard Dominican Filippo da Strada (1450-1505) in the debate on printing in Italy in the late fifteenth century. I argue that Filippo’s critique was the first negative reaction ever by a member of the Church, during a period when its major exponents were initially glad of the new invention. His critique is also the most statutory one ever made (i.e. on printing per se), and deals with economic, humanistic, and pedagogical issues: not only does he criticize typographers, proponents of the printed texts, but also criticizes the same printed characters (“le litre de stampa caliginose”), the reading of which would harm the education of pupils. In the first part, I reconstruct the first reception of printing in Italy in the second half of the fifteenth century, by focusing on the reactions of humanists, minor friars, and copyists. In the second part, I focus on the figure of Filippo based on all the documents that have been written about him so far. In the third part, I analyze ms Lat. d. 5 of the Hesburgh Library (University of Notre Dame), in which I found three unknown autograph texts by Filippo himself: here he stresses the higher pedagogical value of manuscript texts over printed ones, and highlights his fear of finding serious mistakes, especially in sacred printed texts: the same fear expressed by humanists. Finally, I reassess the value of his critique, making a connection also to 16th century reactions against print culture: despite several historical differences, Filippo’s fear — that, for instance, thanks to print everybody could profess themselves “doctor” — does not look that different from the ones expressed by some well-known critics in the sixteenth century, such as Ludovico Domenichi and Giuliano De’ Ricci.

Fundamentally, Filippo’s unique critique is based on three main concerns: an economic one, i.e. the economic loss for copyists (because of the great economic success of printed books); a humanistic reason, i.e. the praise of the accuracy in copying texts and the subsequent attention to not making errors that, in copying sacred texts, can distort God’s word; and a pedagogical reason, i.e. the pedagogical value of the action of copying itself: only by copying, indeed, can students absorb and learn the text.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-04172015-180137

Author Lorenzo Delloso
Advisor Margaret Meserve
Contributor Margaret Meserve, Committee Member
Contributor Christian Moevs, Committee Member
Degree Level Master's Thesis
Degree Discipline Romance Languages and Literatures
Degree Name MA
Defense Date
  • 2015-05-05

Submission Date 2015-04-17
  • United States of America

  • Print Culture-Filippo da Strada-Italian Literature

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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