Volume 24, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1566-5852
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9854
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This paper reconstructs the model of polite conversation that is outlined in two Italian conduct books, Della Casa’s (1774 [1558]) and Gioia’s (1802–1827), a model which will then be compared with one detailed in the German text by Adolph Knigge (1788). The main aim of this study is to highlight the similarities and differences in texts from different historical time periods and geographical areas, in order to identify a European model of polite conversation, whose roots lie in classical, humanist and Renaissance traditions, and which has some features that are still relevant today. There are some clear similarities between this European model and first-generation theories of politeness, despite the different intent that should distinguish “normative texts” and “descriptive models”. This raises an interesting theoretical question: when studying a social and ethical issue such as politeness, to what extent is it possible to advocate a clear separation between description and prescription?


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): conduct books; conversation; Della Casa; Gioia; Knigge; politeness
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