Daniel Savoy: Venice, Tenochtitlan, and the Construction of a Global Empire

Thursday 19 November, 2015
6:30pm, $0

NYU Casa Italiana
24 West 12 Street

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The classicizing architecture of sixteenth-century Venice has long been thought to express the city’s desire to become a new Rome. A close look at the reception of the New World in contemporary Venetian architectural discourse, however, suggests that Venice’s cultural ambition was not to become one other city, but rather to be seen as an ideal amalgam of many of the world’s cities – past, present, and future – and by extension the nucleus of a divinely pre-ordained global empire. Venetian architectural texts, maps, and travelogues likened Venice to the Aztec city-state of Tenochtitlan, yet condemned the Amerindian capital for its savagery and false religion. Through such distinctions, the Venetians absorbed the New World into their idealizing multicultural image, strengthening their bid to regain power on the world stage following their crippling defeat in the War of the League of Cambrai (1508-16).

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