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Traders and Tourists: Venice and Her Visitors

(27) Traders and Tourists: Venice and Her Visitors - Diana Presciutti, Department of Art and Art History

When most people consider Venice, they think of canals, gondolas, and carnival masks.  For centuries, however, the city was one of the most important centers of art, commerce, and military power in Europe.  Today Venice is a study in contradictions: a crowded tourist trap and a faded ghost town; a vibrant center for contemporary art and a frozen specimen of Renaissance culture; a city made beautiful by the very waters that cloud its future.  In this seminar we will examine the ways in which Venice has, since the medieval period, been mythologized, imagined, pictured, and consumed, considering the perspectives of both Venetians and the many visitors to the city (including immigrants, traders, diplomats, pilgrims, slaves, tourists, and college students).  Particular emphasis will be placed on urbanism, cross-cultural exchange, and visual culture.  Topics will include, but are not limited to: the “myth” of Venice; urban development and infrastructure; mosaics and the Byzantine influence; social structures; Titian and the Venetian Renaissance; the printing industry; the evolution of the Carnival festival; the Grand Tour; water control projects; and the Venice Biennale.