Bon-ton on air

"Good manners" are traditionally passed down from one generation to the next. Our parents or grandparents teach us things like waiting until all the guests have been served before starting to eat or not resting our elbows on the table. However, what happens if the rules of etiquette become outdated, foolish or even wrong? Where do the rules of "bon ton" come from, and are they the same all’over the world? Annick Paternoster, a lecturer at USI and an expert in the history of politeness, discussed this issue with other experts on the BBC World Service. They were guests on the radio programme and podcast called "The Forum".

Led by presenter Iszi Lawrence, the episode offered a debate on the history, meaning and reasons for etiquette across time and space. Joining Annick Paternoster are Professor Daniel Kadar from Dalian University of Foreign Languages in China, the HUN-REN Hungarian Research Centre for Linguistics, and the University of Maribor in Slovenia; Courtney Traub, author and editor of the travel website Paris Unlocked; Japanese writer and cultural commentator Manami Okazaki; former Chief of Protocol at the Foreign Ministry of Grenada Alice Thomas-Roberts; and Forum listeners from around the world.

Listen to the broadcast

Annick Paternoster, lecturer at USI Institute of Italian Studies, carries out interdisciplinary research in the fields of the stylistics of literary dialogue, the pragmatics of politeness and discourtesy, historical pragmatics and metapragmatics related to etiquette and etiquette books. In his work, the historical uses of politeness and discourtesy are examined in close relation to the discourse on politeness and discourtesy produced in that historical period from a wide range of prescriptive sources such as etiquettes and etiquette manuals, treatises on rhetoric, school manuals, and children’s books. Her most recent publications include the book on etiquette manuals Historical Etiquette. Etiquette Books in Nineteenth-Century Western Cultures. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2022 -­m/book/10.­1007/978-3­’031 -07578-0 .