Synapsis 2014: Rebellion

Event title (long): 
Synapsis 2014: Rebellion
Synapsis (European School for Comparative Studies) and INCH (International Network of Comparative Humanities)
Closing date for submissions: 
15 May, 2014
Event dates: 
01.09.2014 - 08.09.2014
E-mail contact: 


European School for Comparative Studies

Co-directed by Laura Caretti (University of Siena), Maria diBattista (Princeton), Barry McCrea (University of Notre Dame)

In collaboration with: Centre for Comparative Literature (University of Toronto), Dept. of English and Comparative Literature (Goldsmiths, University of London), British Comparative Literature Association, Réseau Européen d’Etudes Littéraires Comparées/European Network for Comparative Literary Studies, Swiss Center for Affective Sciences – Genève, Compalit - Associazione per gli Studi di Teoria e Storia comparata della Letteratura, Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane (SUM) - Firenze


Synapsis 2014: Rebellion

Pontignano (Siena), 1-8 September 2014


On November 18th, 2013, The Economist drafted a list of 150 countries at risk of social unrest - with 54 ranging from the Medium risk to 65 in High and Very High, a total of more than two-thirds of our planet facing trouble.  Under the title Ripe for Rebellion? the opening line was: “From anti-austerity movements to middle-class revolts, in rich countries and in poor, social unrest has been on the rise around the world.”  Revolts and movements have always accompanied human history, because, as Oscar Wilde wrote in The Soul of Man under Socialism (1891), “Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.”  Lucifer, Adam and Eve, Prometheus, prove that rebellion is there from the start of our self-representation.  It would be an impossible task to draft a line of our past, up to our present, naming individuals or movements whose revolt against any status quo has fostered a change in the course of political, social and cultural history.  As Albert Camus wrote in his seminal book L’homme revolté [The Rebel] (1951): “Qu'est-ce qu'un homme révolté? Un homme qui dit non. Mais s'il refuse, il ne renonce pas : c'est aussi un homme qui dit oui, dès son premier mouvement.”  [‘What is a rebel? A man who says no, but whose refusal does not imply a renunciation. He is also a man who says yes, from the moment he makes his first gesture of rebellion’].    

Art in its various aspects is often part of this endless process.  Its interpretation of life is constantly renewed through the discarding of conventional ideas together with the worn out forms, genders, styles, characters etc. that have embodied them.  Authority is defied and ridiculed, in art as in life, because the semantic peculiarity of ‘rebellion’ in aesthetics lies in holding together its existential and its artistic meaning. In both realms, the energy of revolt is provided by the indignation and the irony against a situation which appears unbearable, and, at the same time (as Camus suggests), revolt is not mere destruction: the implied “yes” allows us to see among the debris the signs of the changing world.


Gillian Beer (Cambridge). Roberto Bigazzi (Siena), Helena Buescu (Lisboa), Laura Caretti (Siena), Maria DiBattista (Princeton), José Gonzalez Garcia (Madrid), Orsetta Innocenti (Siena), Patrizia Lombardo (Genève), Barry McCrea (Notre Dame), Simona Micali (Siena)

Helena Buescu (Universidade de Lisboa)
Laura Caretti (Università di Siena)
Angela Fernandez (Universidade de Lisboa)
Roy Foster (Oxford University)
Massimo Fusillo (Università dell'Aquila)
Nadia Fusini (SUM Firenze)
Orsetta Innocenti (Università di Siena)
Patrizia Lombardo (Université de Genève)
Barry McCrea (University of Notre Dame)
Simona Micali (Università di Siena)
Robert Norton (Notre Dame University)
Carlo Sisi (Art Historian and Curator)

Lecture-concert by Simone Brunetti

Gillian Beer (University of Cambridge) – In English
Maria DiBattista (Princeton University) and Barry McCrea (Notre Dame University) – in English
Michael Wood (Princeton University) – in English
Patrizia Lombardo and Julien Zanetta (Université de Genéve) – in French
José M. González García (CSIC, Madrid) – in Spanish
Roberto Bigazzi (Università di Siena) – in Italian
Susanne Kord and Florian Mussgnug (University College London) – in German


Theatre Workshop
Directed by Laura Caretti


For more information on the School, the Seminars, how to register, the venue, visit the Synapsis website or email