A ''conversazione'' is a "social gathering redominantlyheld by learned or art society" for conversation and discussion, especially about the arts, literature, medicine, and science.Auckland Museum and Institute, ''New Zealand Herald'', (Friday 17 September 1880), p.5.
/ref> ::It would not be easy to devise a happier way han the ''conversazione''of bringing novelties at once under practical criticism—of making the
outliers In statistics, an outlier is a data point that differs significantly from other observations. An outlier may be due to a variability in the measurement, an indication of novel data, or it may be the result of experimental error; the latter ar ...
of science acquainted with the centre, of enabling investigators to compare operations and discuss facts and speculations, and of giving occasion for renewal of intercourse and removal of misunderstandings. …
hetangible gain to science rom the ''coversazione'' is thatinventors and experimentalists … hear irectlywhat contemporaries say of their schemes and experiments, and much can be said and done with advantage amid the free talk of a general gathering which could not be permitted in the formal meeting of a scientific society. (''Nature'', 5 May 1870.)


The writer
Horace Walpole Horatio Walpole (), 4th Earl of Orford (24 September 1717 – 2 March 1797), better known as Horace Walpole, was an English writer, art historian, man of letters, antiquarian, and Whig politician. He had Strawberry Hill House built in Twicke ...
is credited with the first recorded English use of ''conversazione'' in a letter written (from Italy) on 11 November 1739 to Richard West (1716-1742) in which he writes, "After the play we were introduced to the assembly, which they iz., the Italianscall the ''conversazione''".

Historical usage in Britain

In Italy, the term generally refers to a gathering for conversation; and was first used in English to identify the sort of private social gathering more generally known today as an "At Home". In England, however, it soon came to be far more widely used to denote the gatherings of a far more intellectual character, and was applied in the more specific sense of a scientific, artistic, or literary assembly/ soirée, generally held at night. ::A ''conversazione'' like everything else has undergone conspicuous development in these days.
Formerly the word was applicable only to a meeting of '' cognoscenti'', who were themselves proficient in some art or science which might be the immediate subject of learned interest.
At the present time the materials for discussion are supplied by the proficients, and the general public are invited to provide the talk or the criticism.
Moreover a "conversation" of this kind is not limited to a specific subject, but may comprise topics incidental to any branch of science and art whatever. (''New Zealand Herald'', 17 September 1880.) In its report on the first ''conversazione'' ever conducted by the ''Lambeth Literary Institution'' (on 22 June 1836), ''
The Gentleman's Magazine ''The Gentleman's Magazine'' was a monthly magazine founded in London, England, by Edward Cave in January 1731. It ran uninterrupted for almost 200 years, until 1922. It was the first to use the term ''magazine'' (from the French ''magazine'', ...
'' noted that, ::the principal object f the Lambeth Literary Institution's inaugural ''conversazione''has been—by the collection of articles of virtù, antiquity, science, or art, and by the reading of original papers, conversation, and music,— to unite its members, at stated periods, into one focus of neighbourly community; where all may be on a footing of social equality,—the aristocracy of mind, united with urbanity of manners, alone maintaining its ascendancy here; where the high attainments of the classical scholar,—the lofty imaginings of the poet,—the deep researches of the man of science,—and the sturdy intelligence of the skilful artizan ic may all be amalgamated under one roof; and the rough energies of manly intellect be thus softened and refined by the amenities of the social circle.

Knowledge dissemination

According to Yeates (2018): ::In Victorian England, the ''conversazione'' was one of the most important educational, cultural, and recreational means through which scientific knowledge was disseminated and explanations of technical innovation were delivered to the general public.
Conducted by individuals, institutions, or learned bodies, a (usually mixed amateur/expert, male/female) audience was enlightened by explanations, two-way interactions with participants, experiments, demonstrations, hands-on displays of equipment, and/or the exhibition of specimens (see Alberti, 2003; and Plunkett & Sullivan, 2012).
The conversazione’s lectures/explanations delivered '' knowledge by description'', and its experiments, demonstrations, hands-on displays of equipment, and exhibition of specimens delivered '' knowledge by acquaintance'' (with the concomitant '' psychological ownership'' of the knowledge so-acquired).

Other uses

University of Cambridge

* The intellectual society at Cambridge University known as the
Apostles An apostle (), in its literal sense, is an emissary, from Ancient Greek ἀπόστολος (''apóstolos''), literally "one who is sent off", from the verb ἀποστέλλειν (''apostéllein''), "to send off". The purpose of such sending ...
was founded in 1820 as the ''Conversazione Society'' by George Tomlinson. * The Cambridge University Natural History Society continues to call its annual public exhibition a ''Conversazione''.


The arts-oriented social media website Conversazione.org takes its name from the English meaning.

See also

* '' Le Conversazioni - an
anglophone Speakers of English are also known as Anglophones, and the countries where English is natively spoken by the majority of the population are termed the ''Anglosphere''. Over two billion people speak English , making English the largest language ...
literary festival held on the island of
Capri Capri ( , ; ; ) is an island located in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrento Peninsula, on the south side of the Gulf of Naples in the Campania region of Italy. The main town of Capri that is located on the island shares the name. It has b ...
.'' * Public awareness of science *
Science communication Science communication is the practice of informing, educating, raising awareness of science-related topics, and increasing the sense of wonder about scientific discoveries and arguments. Science communicators and audiences are ambiguously def ...
* ''The Cambridge Apostles'' also known as ''The Cambridge Conversazione Society'' * Sacra conversazione - (holy or sacred conversation), a genre developed in
Italian Renaissance painting Italian Renaissance painting is the painting of the period beginning in the late 13th century and flourishing from the early 15th to late 16th centuries, occurring in the Italian Peninsula, which was at that time divided into many political stat ...
, with a depiction of the Virgin and Child amidst a group of
saints In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness, likeness, or closeness to God. However, the use of the term ''saint'' depends on the context and denomination. In Catholic, Eastern Ort ...



* Alberti, Samuel J.M.M. (2003), "Conversaziones and the Experience of Science in Victorian England". ''Journal of Victorian Culture'' 8.2): 208-30. * de Clerq, Peter (2003), "Scientific instruments displayed at the Royal Society ''conversazioni'' or ''soirées'' in the nineteenth century", in Marco Beretta, Paolo Galluzzi and Carlo Triarico (eds.), ''Musa Musaei: Studies on Scientific Instruments and Collections in Honour of Mara Miniati'', (Florence), Biblioteca di Nuncius Studi e Testi XLIX, pp.395–405.
Hartrick, Elizabeth (2008), "'Curiosities and rare scientific instruments': Colonial ''conversazioni'' in Australia and New Zealand in the 1870s and 1880s", pp.11.1–11.19 in ''Seize the Day: Exhibitions, Australia and the World'', edited by Kate Darian-Smith, Richard Gillespie, Caroline Jordan, and Elizabeth Willis, Elizabeth, Monash University ePress, (Melbourne).
* Plunkett, J., & Sullivan, J.A. (2012), "Fetes, Bazaars and Conversaziones: Science, Entertainment and Local Civic Elites", in J. Kember, J. Plunkett, and J.A. Sullivan (eds.), ''Popular Exhibitions, Science and Showmanship, 1840-1910'', (pp.41–60). Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. * Wood, Jane (2006), "A Culture of Improvement: Knowledge, Aesthetic Consciousness, and the Conversazione", ''Nineteenth Century Studies'', Vol.20, pp.79-97.
Yeates, Lindsay B., "James Braid (II): Mesmerism, Braid’s Crucial Experiment, and Braid’s Discovery of Neuro-Hypnotism", ''Australian Journal of Clinical Hypnotherapy and Hypnosis'', Vol.40, No.1, (Autumn 2018), pp.40-92.

External links

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