Economy Italian Language and Literature

The Filangieri-Franklin correspondence: a 240 years long discourse between Italy and the US – Hybrid event, Sep 27

Hybrid – UC Berkeley Campus and Zoom

Speakers: Amedeo Arena, Full Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Naples Federico II; Senior Fellow at the Institute of European Studies at UC Berkeley; Sergio Strozzi, Consul General of Italy in San Francisco; Annamaria Di Giorgio, Director, Italian Cultural Insitute of San Francisco

Moderators: Diego Pirillo, Associate Professor, Department of Italian Studies, UC Berkeley; Jeroen Dewulf, Director, Institute of European Studies

Sponsored by the Institute of European Studies, the Department of Italian Studies, Program for the Study of Italy, the Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco, the Italian Consulate General of San Francisco. 


On August 24, 1782, the Neapolitan Enlightenment philosopher Gaetano Filangieri sent his first letter to Benjamin Franklin, who had already received the first two volumes of Filangieri’s treatise on good government, The Science of Legislation, from a mutual acquaintance, the Neapolitan diplomat Luigi Pio. A lively correspondence ensued between the two intellectuals and lasted until 1788, the year of Filangieri’s untimely death at the age of 35. Franklin attached a copy of the US Constitution to his last letter to Filangieri, as a token of his gratitude for the latter’s “invaluable Work.”
While scholars are still debating the extent of Filangieri’s influence on Franklin and, through him, on the making of the US Constitution, the Filangieri-Franklin correspondence marks the starting point on a discourse on certain values shared by many Italians and Americans alike, values that still relevant nowadays and that are central to the identity of both nations. This talk will examine some of those shared values as well as their most relevant historical concretizations.