Fernand Braudel Fellow
from January to March 2017
Tel. [+39] 055 4686 879
Postal address: Department of History and Civilization | Via Bolognese 156 | 50139 Florence - Italy
Villa Salviati, Castello - Office SACA 411
Liaison professor: A. Thomson
Rolando Minuti was born in Livorno (Italy) in 1953. He attended his university courses in Pisa and was PhD and Research Fellow at the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa. Since 1991 he has been Research Professor at the University of Florence, Associate Professor since 2001 and qualified as Full Professor since 2014. He has been President of the Degree Courses in History and Historical Sciences of the University of Florence (2010 - 2014) and is, at present, President of the Centro di Servizi Culturali per Stranieri (Center for Cultural Services for Foreigners) of the University of Florence. Among his many scientific responsibilities it is worth mentioning his charge of Secretary-general of the Italian Society for Eighteenth Century Studies. His researches are mainly devoted to the European intellectual history of the long XVIIIth century: historiography, orientalism, the work of Montesquieu and other leading members of Enlightenment culture. Among his main publications: Oriente barbarico e storiografia settecentesca (Venezia, Marsilio, 1994), Orientalismo e idee di tolleranza nella cultura francese del primo ‘700 (Firenze, Olschki, 2006), Montesquieu. Spicilège (edité par R. Minuti, et annoté par S. Rotta, Oxford, The Voltaire Foundation, 2002), Una geografia politica della diversità. Studi su Montesquieu (Napoli, Liguori, 2015).
As a Fernand Braudel Fellow, Rolando Minuti will work on his research project entitled History of manners in European culture of the long XVIIIth century, including the following research items:
- The connection between customs and manners and the concept of ‘national character’, from the first half of the XVIIIth century onward (Espiard de la Borde’s Essais sur le génie et le caractère des nations, 1743, and the debates that followed its publication and new editions in various European countries).
- The possibility of comparing manners of different peoples and societies opens the way to a new approach to universal history. Connecting manners and customs to different ways of subsistence, economies and social practices one can conceive the unity of human family beyond the concatenation of events and genealogies which was typical of the traditional diffusionist approach. Travel literature and ethnographic observation gave, from this point of view, documents of primary relevance, and iconographical representations are, for this topic, an essential complementary instrument. They will be analyzed in various European contexts, with a special attention, as above said, to the role of translations.
- The adoption of this new perspective for a new methodology of inquiry on manners and customs on a universal scale was particularly perceived by Jean Nicholas Démeunier, whose Esprit des usages (1776) will be the subject of a specific analysis, particularly about its diffusion, through translations, in a broader European context. As himself an active and important translator (mainly from the English language) and a figure connected to the American world (his relationship with Jefferson is worth mentioning, for instance) Démeunier will deserve special attention.
- The presence of these topics in a widely diffused literature - encyclopedic works, reviews, summaries and collections - allows a reflection on the possibility of revising the traditional periodization on Enlightenment age, and of observing the persistence of Enlightenment attitudes, judgements, problems, deeply in the XIXth century. During the first decades of the XIXth century the history of manners becomes one of the most popular subject of historiography, and a carefully analysis of some works in this wide scenario can offer interesting elements for a new consideration of the chronological boundaries of the ‘Enlightenment age’. This subject can be observed in various contexts of European culture and a particular example is offered by the Italian encyclopedic work Il costume antico e moderno, directed by Giulio Ferrario from 1815 to 1835, on which the proponent already began some preliminary inquiries which need to be enlarged and deepened.