John A. Davis holds the Emiliana Pasca Noether Chair in Modern Italian History at the University of Connecticut and is Editor of the Journal of Modern Italian Studies. A John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, Davis has received the Serena Medal of the British Academy and the International Galileo Galilei Prize in recognition of his contributions to modern Italy history. A Resident of the American Academy in Rome, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (London) and a member of the academic board of the Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici, he has taught and lectured at numerous universities in Italy and Europe as well as the USA. He is general editor of the seven volume Oxford Short History of Italy (Oxford University Press 2000-2006) and has edited many collective volumes, including Italy and America 1943-4 (Napoli, Cittá del Sole 1997). His recent publications include Naples and Napoleon. Southern Italy in the Age of the European Revolutions (Oxford University Press 2006 – Italian edition forthcoming Rubbettino Editore 2013), which won the Howard and Helen Marraro Prize of the American Historical Association for the best book on Italy in any period (2007), the Premio Internazionale Sele d’Oro and the Literary Award of the International Napoleonic Society. His most recent book, The Jews of San Nicandro, was published by Yale University Press (October 2010) and will be published in Italian by La Giuntina (Firenze 2013).
Recent emphasis on the international character of early 19th century European liberalism and nationalism has focused new attention on the transnational circulation of ideas and less visible forms of cultural transfer. The adoption in 1820-1 in Naples, Sicily and Piedmont of the Spanish Charter of 1812 offers an explicit, well documented but curiously neglected example of these processes. Was the adoption of the Spanish Charter in Italy simply a matter of imitation or did its federalist and democratic goals speak directly to issues that were as relevant in Italy as in Spain? Did contemporaries understand it as a ‘Mediterranean’ model for democracy whose attraction was enhanced (as in Spanish America) by shared legacies of Iberian institutional and juridical cultures? Can we identify the vectors of transmission, the underlying cultural transfers that did – or did not – accompany these exchanges and their meanings for contemporaries? And what of memories that remained after the revolutions? These are the principal questions to be addressed in a project whose primary documentary base is provided by the abundant literature (in Spanish, Italian and French) generated by the revolutions.