Report from China: Shanghai Conference and Lectures

November 21, 2014
Report from China: Shanghai Conference and Lectures

I Tatti organized a conference in China. “Space in Renaissance Italy,”  held on October 16-17, first at the Harvard Center Shanghai, and then at Fudan University, was also the first I Tatti event to take place at a Chinese university. Attended by over 90 scholars and students from 33 different institutions, the event brought together specialists from China and Japan with academics from Europe and the US for a stimulating dialogue about shared research interests. The conference examined the varied meanings and functions of Renaissance space as expressed in art and architecture, historical developments, literature, and urbanism. This theme followed the topic of the summer seminar of the same theme that was held at Villa I Tatti in July 2014, and funded by the Getty. Seminar participants took part in the poster session at the conference. To see posters, click here. For conference program and abstracts, here. To apply for the 2015 seminar, click here. For video recordings of the four sessions held at the Harvard Center Shanghai, please see below.

conference shanghai

The conference showcased current research on the Italian Renaissance being conducted in East Asia. Many Chinese and Japanese scholars met here for the first time, and discovered that they worked on similar or complementary topics. This was especially true for speakers who considered the influence and effects of cultural contact between the visual traditions of Renaissance Italy and Early Modern China and Japan. Papers in this group addressed topics such as the differing adoption and interpretation of perspectival systems, methods and conventions of map-making, and architectural design as related to ritual practices. Several  scholars examined the work of and impact of the Jesuits. A second group of speakers revealed a lively interest in Italian Renaissance topics in Asia, with papers addressing a range of subjects from altarpieces, to private chapels, fresco cycles to villas and streetscapes. As a whole, the conference offered a fascinating cross-section of Italian Renaissance studies in China and Japan, not only revealing the high quality of ongoing research, but also underlining the value of dialogue between researchers that is fundamental to I Tatti and the Getty Foundation’s international engagement strategies.  

Shanghai Conference 2014After the conference, I Tatti director Lino Pertile took the train to Beijing, where he gave lectures at Remnin University (Department of History) and Peking University (School of Art).  Assistant Director Jonathan Nelson gave talks first at Sichun University in Chengdu (School of Art and the School of History and Culture) and then, in Beijing, at Tsinghua University (School of Humanities) and Peking University (Department of History).  At most of these events, every seat was taken, usually by students. The large turn-out evinces the great interest in both the Italian Renaissance and in the Western methodologies.  During a series of meetings –in Shanghai, Chengdu, and Beijing—colleagues discussed how Villa I Tatti could collaborate with institutions in China to facilitate and promote Italian Renaissance Studies through conferences, seminars, lectures, courses given in China, publications, building library collections, and fellowships.

 For video recording of the conference, please follow these links:

 The conference was organized by Jonathan Nelson (I Tatti) and Fabrizio Nevola (University of Exeter). Major funding was provided from the Harvard China Fund, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Getty Foundation, as part of its Connecting Art Histories initiative.  Additional support came from The Harvard Center Shanghai; the International Center for Studies of Chinese Civilization, Fudan University (ICSCC Fudan); the National Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies, Fudan University; the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund and the Scholarly Programs and Publications Funds at I Tatti in the names of Myron & Sheila Gilmore, Robert Lehman, Jean-François Malle,  Andrew W. Mellon, Craig & Barbara Smyth, and Malcolm Hewitt Wiener.