The article introduces a work presenting the accounts of English gentlemen engaged in the ‘Grand Tour’ in Italy in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries regarding the city of Modena and its territory. The accounts are not, of course, a transparent window onto life in Modena and Nonantola, but need to be seen with reference to the British context from which these travellers came. The accounts also point to a cultural encounter, or more precisely, narrations of this encounter produced by representatives of one culture as they moved through what anthropologists have termed a “contact zone.” Thus the accounts were examples of how the new social and political regime of Great Britain, Protestant in religion, commercial in spirit and constitutional in terms of its monarchy, celebrated a new cultural identity by means of the exploration of what they saw as its adversary, the Catholic, agricultural and 'despotic' European continent. From a twentieth-century perspective, we may also perceive that this same moment of encounter can paradoxically have constituted a celebration of an overarching shared European context: a recognition of an underlying shared cosmopolitan framework. The Grand Tour took place, in other words, within the framework of the universalism which characterised much of the thought of the Enlightenment. In this sense, perhaps we may see it as part of a celebration of the ‘unity in diversity’ later to become the slogan of the post-war European polity of the second half of the twentieth century.

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leech
2021

Abstract

The article introduces a work presenting the accounts of English gentlemen engaged in the ‘Grand Tour’ in Italy in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries regarding the city of Modena and its territory. The accounts are not, of course, a transparent window onto life in Modena and Nonantola, but need to be seen with reference to the British context from which these travellers came. The accounts also point to a cultural encounter, or more precisely, narrations of this encounter produced by representatives of one culture as they moved through what anthropologists have termed a “contact zone.” Thus the accounts were examples of how the new social and political regime of Great Britain, Protestant in religion, commercial in spirit and constitutional in terms of its monarchy, celebrated a new cultural identity by means of the exploration of what they saw as its adversary, the Catholic, agricultural and 'despotic' European continent. From a twentieth-century perspective, we may also perceive that this same moment of encounter can paradoxically have constituted a celebration of an overarching shared European context: a recognition of an underlying shared cosmopolitan framework. The Grand Tour took place, in other words, within the framework of the universalism which characterised much of the thought of the Enlightenment. In this sense, perhaps we may see it as part of a celebration of the ‘unity in diversity’ later to become the slogan of the post-war European polity of the second half of the twentieth century.
Da Londra a Roma passando per Modena. Città e territorio modenese nelle descrizioni dei viaggiatori inglesi dal 1700 al 1850
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/847655
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