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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). 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 the pragmatics of politeness and impoliteness and historical pragmatics. Past uses of (im)politeness are studied in close connection with the metadiscourse on (im-)politeness of that historical period, using a wide variety of prescriptive sources such as conduct literature, rhetorical treatises, school manuals, children's literature, etc. These texts are 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.

From 2014 to 2019, I have been the Senior Researcher of the research project "The reasons for politeness. The birth of contemporary politeness in the behavioural treatises in 19th century Italy", (directors Carlo Ossola and Andrea Rocci), financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Together with Francesca Saltamacchia, we have developed the Corpus of Nineteenth-Century Italian Conduct Books (CGIO), for which we have digitalised the 50 most popular conduct and etiquette books.

In 2019 I will deliver talks at the conference Historical Corpora and Variation (HICOV) organised by the Università degli studi di Cagliari, at the 5th Conference of the International Network of Address Research (INAR), at the University of Sheffield, and at the 12th International Conference of the Linguistic Politeness Research Group, Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge. I am the co-organiser, together with Gudrun Held and Daniel Z. Kadar, of the panel Historical Politeness in Europe at the 16th International Pragmatics Conference, Hong Kong, June 2019.

Recent Publications

- Annick Paternoster e Susan Fitzmaurice (eds), Politeness in Nineteenth-Century Europe, Amsterdam-Philadelphia, John Benjamins (Pragmatics and Beyond New Series 229), 2019. Click here.

- Le leggi della cortesia. Galateo ed etichetta di fine Ottocento. Un'antologia, ed. by A. Paternoster e F. Saltamacchia, presentazione di S. Prandi, Novara, Interlinea, 2018. Click here.

- "Costumi soavi. Dolci maniere". Galatei e manuali di etichetta nel Ticino dell'Ottocento, ed. by A. Paternoster, F. Saltamacchia and L. Saltini, Lugano, Biblioteca cantonale di Lugano. 2018.

- A. Paternoster and F. Saltamacchia. 2018. Il vestito forma la persona - "clothes make the man". Fashion morality in Italian Nineteenth-century conduct books. In Fashion Communication: Between Tradition and Digital Transformation, N. Kalbaska, T. Sadaba and L. Cantoni (eds.): 287-306, Thematic Section in "Studies in Communication Sciences" 18 (2). Clicca qui.

-Roma beffata: scortesia e divertimento nella Cortigiana 1525 di Pietro Aretino, in Roma-amoR. Archeologia letteraria e visiva in sei saggi, ed. by Walter Geerts, Roma, Bulzoni, 2019, pp. 19-51. Click here

- From requesting to alms-seeking. The politeness formula 'fare la carità di' in nineteenth-century Italy, in Doing things with words across time: Snapshots of communicative practices of and from the past, ed. by Sara Gesuato, Marina Dossena e Daniela Cesiri, Numero speciale di ”Lingue e Linguaggi” 2019 (31), 35-65. Click here.

In stampa:

- Women on Books for Women: Reading Lists in Turn-of-the-Century Etiquette Books, in Lettrici italiane tra arte e letteratura. Dall'Ottocento al modernismo, ed. by Giovanna Capitelli and Olivia Santovetti, Roma, Campisano.

- Emotive Figures as ‘Shown’ Emotion in Italian Post-Unification Conduct Books (1860-1900) in Informal Logic, Special issue ed. by Chiara Pollaroli and Sara Greco, Rhetoric and Language: emotions and style in argumentative discourse. 

Media contact

I curated, together with Francesca Saltamacchia (ISI) and Luca Saltini (Biblioteca cantonale Lugano), the exhibition “Costumi soavi, dolci maniere”. Galatei e manuali d’etichetta nel Ticino dell’Ottocento, Biblioteca cantonale of Lugano, from the 20th of November 2018 to the 12th of January 2019. The exhibition, which is funded by the Pica Alfieri Foundation, Lugano, was accompanied by a catalogue and an anthology of etiquette books.