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Annick Paternoster


Stylistics of literary dialogue. The pragmatics of politeness and impoliteness. Historical pragmatics. Metapragmatics in relation to conduct and etiquette manuals.
I have studied Romance Philology at the University of Antwerp, where I obtained a grant (1990-1994) from the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO) to conduct a PhD in Romance Linguistics and Literature, on 16th Century Italian theoretical dialogue. I lectured Terminology and Translation at the University of Leuven Campus Antwerp (formerly Katholieke Vlaamse Hogeschool), before moving to the United Kingdom, where, in 1999, I was appointed Visiting Research Fellow for the Department of Italian, at the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Leeds. My collaboration with the Istituto di Studi italiani dates from its foundation in 2007.
Research and pubblications
I am interested in the linguistic make-up of speech-like dialogues within three genres: literary dialogue of the Renaissance (Castiglione, Guazzo), 16th and 18th Century theatre (Ariosto, Bibbiena, Aretino, Goldoni) and 19th Century novel (Manzoni, Collodi). I pursue a distinctly interdisciplinary research agenda and my work belongs to the field of literary stylistics, which uses the methodology promoted by linguistics and especially pragmatics. I have become increasingly interested in a new field of research that has developed within historical pragmatics: historical (im-)politeness. Past uses of (im-)politeness are studied in close connection with the discourse on (im-)politeness of that historical period, using a wide variety of socio-cultural sources such as conduct literature, rhetorical treatises, school manuals, children's literature, etc. These texts are also interesting in that they are historical expressions of metapragmatic awareness: they explicitly reflect on the norms that are guiding the ongoing self-monitoring of 'polite' communication.

Currently I am the Senior Researcher of the research project "The reasons for politeness. The birth of contemporary politeness in the behavioural treatises in 19th century Italy", to which I collaborate with Carlo Ossola and Andrea Rocci. The project, which is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, started September 2014 and runs for three years. Together with Francesca Saltamacchia, we have developped the Corpus of Nineteenth-Century Italian Conduct Books, for which we have digitalised the 50 most popular conduct and etiquette books.

In the last two years I have spoken at conferences and workshops in Helsinki, Dublin, Manchester, Leeds, Fribourg and Belfast. I have organised,  with Elena Musiani, University of Bologna, of a panel dedicated to La donna nei galatei dall'Unita al primo dopoguerra held at the conference From Mothers to Citizens: Italian Women from Unification to the Republic, organised by the University of Cambridge. In 2018 I will participate to the 2nd Argage conference, on Argumentation and Language, Lugano.

Together with Susan Fitzmaurice, University of Sheffield, I am preparing an edited volume on Politeness in Nineteenth-Century Europe.

Within the context of the SNSF project, we are organising, together with Dr. Luca Saltini (Biblioteca Cantonale Lugano) an exhibition on nineteenth century conduct and etiquette books present in the libraries of Ticino. The exhibition, which is funded by the Pica Alfieri Foundation, Lugano, will be inaugurated in the Canton Library of Lugano mid-November 2018 and is accompanied by a catalogue and an anthology of conduct books.

In 2017, the SNSF's research magazine Horizons has dedicated an article to our research on conduct books.

Recent Publications

Cortesi e scortesi. Percorsi di pragmatica storica da Castiglione a Collodi, Roma, Carocci, 2015, 335 pp.

- Dániel Z. Kádár, Annick Paternoster, Historicity in metapragmatics. A study on ‘discernment’ in Italian metadiscourse, "Pragmatics", 52, 3, 2015, pp. 369-391. See here.

 - Annick Paternoster, Francesca Saltamacchia. (Im)politeness formulae and (im)politeness rules: metadiscourse and conventionalisation in 19th Century Italian conduct books, in Elena Maria Pandolfi, Johanna Miecznikowski, Sabine Christopher, Alain Kamber (eds.), Studies on Language Norms in Context, Frankfurt am Main, Peter Lang (Duisburg Papers on Research in Language and Culture), 2017, pp. 263 - 301. See here.

Media contact
In 2013 I conducted a programme for the Swiss National Radio, RSI Rete Due, in the cycle "Giovanni Boccaccio e l'arte della narrazione", in which I presented the story of Tancredi and Ghismunda (Decameron, IV, 1) and interviewed the Swiss writer Giovanni Orelli. November 2015 I gave a public lecture in the conference cycle "Qui e ora - materia del vivere" dedicated to the cultural history of coffee.