Reviewed: ‘Italy’s Eighteenth Century’

Posted in books, reviews by Editor on April 9, 2011

Recently added to caa.reviews:

Paula Findlen, Wendy Wassyng Roworth, and Catherine M. Sama, eds., Italy’s Eighteenth Century: Gender and Culture in the Age of the Grand Tour (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009), 504 pages, ISBN: 9780804759045, $65.

Reviewed by Sarah Betzer, McIntire Department of Art, University of Virginia; posted 31 March 2011.

Following an efflorescence of critical work on the subject over the last twenty-five years, the European Grand Tour has emerged as a focus of innovative interdisciplinary scholarship. The significance of ancient and Renaissance art to the Grand Tour itinerary—together with the emergence of modern display practices and attendant opportunities for the exercise of aesthetic judgment—have conspired to guarantee the Grand Tour’s special appeal to art historians. The subject’s enduring interest is surely also due to the fact that it has proven especially fertile ground for art history’s disciplinary move toward thinking beyond national borders. The Grand Tour was founded on the experience of boundary crossing, and the best recent work on the subject has explored how the touristic encounter with real and imagined Italian geographies put productive pressure on national, class, and gender identities. “Italy’s Eighteenth Century: Gender and Culture in the Age of the Grand Tour” is an important addition to this literature, charting new territory by examining Italy in the age of Enlightenment with a view from inside.

Like Paula Findlen’s excellent introduction, the collection reflects a “multidisciplinary conversation about the state of this field” (1), with authors hailing from the history of science, history of art, history of music, literature, and gender studies. The collection makes available in English the recent work of established Italian scholars who are united with their North American counterparts by their scrupulous mining of archival sources; the generous footnotes shed light on a veritable treasure trove of primary documents.

The volume’s ambitious core contribution is couched methodologically: to unsettle the tendency to examine Italy of the Grand Tour primarily through the eyes of foreign visitors whereby “Italy” emerges as a sort of afterimage, a composite of lived experiences, mythic tropes, and memories. This approach, shared by many of the foremost Grand Tour scholars, has yielded fundamental insights about foreign perceptions of Italy, albeit one that Findlen observes can threaten to reduce the site to “an itinerary rather than a living, breathing entity” (4). This volume proposes to expand our understanding of the place and period by examining the particular cultural episodes of the Italian peninsula “in its own terms” (7). . . .

The full review is available here» (CAA membership required)

At CUNY: Three Revolutions of Liberty: England, America, and France

Posted in books, lectures (to attend) by Editor on April 9, 2011

From the Center for Humanities at CUNY:

Three Revolutions of Liberty: England, America, and France
Philippe Raynaud, Nadia Urbinati, Jeremy Jennings, and Richard Wolin
Center for the Humanities, The City University of New York, 13 April 2011

400 pages, ISBN: 9782130568742

Over the last few decades, the revival of political liberalism has gone hand in hand with a reassessment of the commonalities and differences subtending the eighteenth-century trans-Atlantic revolutions. A comparative perspective allows us to better appreciate the standpoints of both the revolutions’ leading intellectual progenitors (Locke, Montesquieu, and Jefferson) as well as of their leading critics (Edmund Burke, Madame de Stael, and Alexis de Tocqueville). In Trois révolutions de la liberté, Angleterre, États-Unis, France (2009), Philippe Raynaud, one of the protagonists of the French liberal revival, has fashioned a unique interpretation of the intellectual lineage that defines this trans-Atlantic revolutionary heritage – a heritage that, in so many ways, continues to define the central terms of modern politics. Join Prof. Raynaud (Political Science, University of Paris II), Nadia Urbinati (Political Science, Columbia University), Jeremy Jennings (Political Science, Queen Mary, University College London), and Richard Wolin (Political Science and
History, The Graduate Center, CUNY) for a vigorous debate on the
implications and relevance of the revolutionary legacy for both the history
of ideas as well as contemporary politics.