ANN-Cultural Encounters and Shared Spaces in the Renaissance City, 1300-1700

Filippo De Vivo's picture

Cultural Encounters and Shared Spaces in the Renaissance City, 1300-1700

A Conference in Memory of Shona Kelly Wray

12-13 September 2014, University of Manitoba

Recent scholarship in the history of information, art, and science has emphasized how knowledge and ideas flowed in varied ways and circulated between people of different social status with distinct levels of formal education and access to power. This interdisciplinary conference seeks to explore in greater depth the ways that material spaces of the early modern city functioned to facilitate cultural encounters and the nature of these exchanges.

  • Where did the exchange of knowledge take place (from workshops to streets to bridges to classrooms to marketplaces to churches, etc.)?
  • Was the physical arrangement of these places conducive to interaction (e.g. openness to street; benches outside)?
  • How open or closed were spaces to different kinds of people?
  • What sort of information did city dwellers and travelers seek and why; what knowledge and information did they bring to these encounters and what did they receive?
  • Were ideas shared openly and how was information demonstrated?
  • How did visitors participate (did they simply watch or did they take part)?

We hope to uncover cases of unexpected encounters (in terms of participants and information) by using creatively the surviving evidence (e.g. graffiti, architecture, marginalia, sketches, books of secrets, ricordanze, archival records, etc.). In addition we aim to illuminate the ways in which the activities and vocabulary of different spaces permeated multiple disciplines and discourses (e.g. politics, poetry, philosophy, etc.), often generating new ideas. The conference, funded by Villa I Tatti and by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, is organised by Roisin Cossar (Manitoba, CA), Filippo de Vivo (Birkbeck, UK), and Christina Neilson (Oberlin, US). Website



Friday, September 12, 2014
409 Tier building
The University of Manitoba

Welcome: David Watt, Institute for the Humanities, University of Manitoba
Introductory remarks: Roisin Cossar, Filippo De Vivo, Christina Neilson

Niall Atkinson, University of Chicago: The Sonic Dimensions of the Florentine Piazza

Christina Neilson, Oberlin College: The Display of Knowledge: Making and Knowing in Renaissance Artists’ Workshops

Comment, Nick Terpstra, University of Toronto, questions and discussion from audience

11:00 Coffee break

Yvonne Elet, Vassar College: Symbolic Topography at Villa Madama

Nicoletta Marcelli, University of Macerata: Florentine intellectuals in an “open” space: the Orti Orcellari circle, 1502-1522

Comment: Nick Terpstra, questions and discussion

1:00: lunch*

2:00-4:00: afternoon workshop session for presenters and discussants only


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cecilia Hewlett, Monash University: Rotten eggs and tainted bread: the politics of the marketplace in Renaissance Florence

Roisin Cossar, University of Manitoba: Notarial Networks in Trecento Venice

Comment: Tom Cohen and Elizabeth Cohen, York University, questions and discussion with audience

11:00 Coffee break

Dario Tessicini, Durham University: Talking Statues discuss comets: the circulation of astrological prognostications in Venice at the end of the 16th century

Filippo De Vivo, Birkbeck, The University of London: Walking in Renaissance Venice

Comment: Tom Cohen and Elizabeth Cohen, and questions from audience

1:00: lunch*

Afternoon workshop session for presenters and discussants only

Advanced registration for the conference is necessary. Please register by September 1,  providing your name and institutional affiliation.

*Due to budgetary restrictions, lunches are open to presenters and discussants only.

This conference is generously funded by The Lila Wallace – Reader’s Digest Special Project Grant from Villa I Tatti: The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies and by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Thanks also to the University of Manitoba’s Institute for the Humanities and Department of History.