Conference: Luxury and the Ethics of Greed in the Early Modern World (25-26 Sept.)

August 26, 2014
Conference: Luxury and the Ethics of Greed in the Early Modern World (25-26 Sept.)

This conference aims to unravel the complex interaction of the competing paradigms of luxury and greed, which lie at the origins of modern consumption practices. In the western world, the phenomenon of luxury and the ethical dilemmas it raised appeared, for the first time since antiquity, in Renaissance Italy. Here luxury emerged as a core idea in the conceptualization of consumption. Simultaneously greed, manifested in new, unrestrained consumption practices, came under close ethical scrutiny. Other European countries soon followed suit, and debates around consumption practices also emerged in South Asia, South East Asia, and in Ming China. As the buying power of new classes gained pace, and goods from Asia and the Americas increasingly penetrated world markets, these paradigms evolved and continued to inform increasingly global cultures through the Early Modern period. Emerging and established scholars will propose a new appraisal and vision of luxury and the ethics of greed throughout the Early Modern World.

To register, please click here.
For abstracts of the papers, click here.


A Joint Villa I Tatti - European University Institute event

Thursday 25 September 2014: Villa I Tatti (Florence)

09.00  Registration, Welcome and Introductions
09:30  Luxury and Greed: Defining the Terms
Discussant: Jan de Vries (University of California, Berkeley)

  • Catherine Kovesi (University of Melbourne), The Birth of Luxury: The Creation of a New Concept in Early Modern Europe
  • Lino Pertile (Villa I Tatti), Dante’s She-Wolf: A Beast Whose Greed is Never Satisfied

11:30  Consuming Luxury I: Cloth and Clothing
Discussant: Jonathan Nelson (Villa I Tatti)

  • Giorgio Riello (University of Warwick) Luxury and the Early Modern World of Exchange
  • Maria Giuseppina Muzzarelli (University of Bologna), “Vesti bollate”: The Italian Fashion Gazette of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries (Shapes, Colors, Decorations, and Accessories)

14:30  Religion and the Luxury Economy
Discussant: Alessandro Polcri (Fordham University/Villa I Tatti)

  • Brodie Waddell (Birkbeck College, University of London) Luxury, Greed, and Charity in English Protestant Culture: The Parable of Dives and Lazarus
  • Peter Howard (Monash University) The Language of Dives and Lazarus: Preaching Generosity and Almsgiving in Renaissance Florence

16:30  Disseminating Luxury through the Early Modern World
Discussant: Luca Molà (European University Institute)

  • Rosa Salzberg (University of Warwick), Discussing and Disseminating Luxury on the Streets of Renaissance Italy
  • Sean Roberts (Villa I Tatti), Luxury, Technology, and the Diplomatic Gift in the Early Modern Mediterranean

Friday 26 September 2014The European University Institute (Fiesole)

10:00  Registration, Welcome and Introductions
10:30  Consuming Luxury II: Food and Its Crockery
Discussant: Allen Grieco (Villa I Tatti)

  • Laura Giannetti (University of Miami), “Taste of Luxury” in Renaissance Italy: in Practice and in the Literary Imagination.
  • Timothy Wilson (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford), Italian Maiolica and Gift-Giving Between Women, c. 1480-1600
  • Rebecca Earle (University of Warwick), Chocolate in the Historical Imagination.

14:30  Faking It: The Pretense of Luxury
Discussant:  Ulinka Rublack (University of Cambridge)

  • Timothy McCall (Villanova University), ‘Material Fictions of Luxury in Fifteenth-Century Italy.’
  • Paula Hohti (University of Copenhagen), ‘“Cheap Magnificence?”: Imitation and Low Cost Luxuries in Renaissance Italy.’
  • Marta Ajmar (Victoria and Albert Museum, London), '”Those who are not familiar with this matter think that they are looking at one substance alone”: Understanding materiality and material imitation in Renaissance Italy.’

17:00  Concluding Discussion
Chaired by Discussants: John Styles (University of Hertfordshire) and Catherine Kovesi (University of Melbourne)

Organizer: Catherine Kovesi
Committee Members: Laura Giannetti, Allen Grieco, Luca Molà, Jonathan Nelson

This conference is open to the public with no charge.

Villa I Tatti
Via di Vincigliata 26, 50135 Florence
+39 055 603251+39 055 603251

European University Institute
Villa Schifanoia, Sala Europa
Department of History and Civilization
Via Giovanni Boccaccio 121, 50133 Florence
+39 055 4685 541+39 055 4685 541

Funding for this event is provided by Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies,
The European University Institute, & The Leverhulme International Luxury Network, Warwick University and with additional support from the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund and the Scholarly Programs and Publications Funds in the names of Myron & Sheila Gilmore, Robert Lehman, Jean-François Malle, Andrew W. Mellon, Craig & Barbara Smyth, and Malcolm Hewitt Wiener.

Image: Cesare Ripa. Iconologia (Perugia, 1766)