James Ford Bell Library

Celebrating Venice!

Join us this fall as we celebrate the entrancing city of Venice, long a capital of Mediterranean trade, through an exhibition, lectures, workshops, and other cultural events.

Bell Library Exhibition

Opening October 8, 2012:”Celebrating Venice: On Land and Sea,” an exhibition of the James Ford Bell Library.

At one time, Venice was a major maritime power, a staging area for crusades and pilgrim travel, renowned for early printing, and a flourishing trade nexus between Europe and the rest of the world. This exhibit features items from the James Ford Bell Library that illustrate these aspects and more of the long and richly colored pageant of Venetian history.

October 8, 2012 through January 15, 2013. Free and open to the public. Gallery hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; weekends and evenings by appointment.



Public Lecture Series

Joanne M. FerraroJoanne FerraroOctober 11, 2012: Professor Joanne M. Ferraro, San Diego State University: "Binding Passions and Shielding Virtue in Early Modern Venice."

For centuries Venice enjoyed the alluring reputation of being ‘The Most Serene Republic,’ a myth that inspired an elaborate ceremonial symbolism and iconography. Public space was decorated with icons of Justice and Liberty; votive churches stood as symbols of pious devotion for staged processions; and Venice was represented as the Queen of Virginity. The pageantry, however, did not mask the hardships of poverty, prostitution, and sexually transmitted disease. While authorities strove to bind passions and shield virtue, courtesans, heretics, and fake saints foiled their idealizations, filling the floating city with pleasure and vice. Through the period art and architecture, Ferraro explores both the civic energies that sustained Venice’s ideal public and sacred symbolism and the pitfalls of arranged marriage, female religious confinement, and clerical celibacy that spurred illicit sex and illegitimacy.

October 25, 2012: Center for Medieval Studies presents the Inaugural Carl Sheppard Memorial Lecture, presented by Professor Robert S. Nelson, Yale University: "'Lords of One Quarter and One Half Quarter of the Empire of Romania': Byzantine Art and State Authority in Venice."Robert NelsonRobert Nelson

“Once did she hold the gorgeous East in fee And was the safeguard of the West…” Wordsworth thus begins a sonnet, titled “On the Extinction of the Venetian Republic,” written in 1802 after the city had fallen to Napoleon. The English poet had learned well an insistent theme of Venetian political propaganda. Although the historical reality was more complex, the message was essential to Venetian identity, and art and spoils of victory over Byzantium played an important role in maintaining this and other myths of the city. This lecture will examine the Venetians use and adaptation of Byzantine artifacts during and after the Middle Ages.


THIS LECTURE HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED FOR DECEMBER 6, 2012 The Institute for Advanced Study's Mediterranean Identity Collaborative presents a lecture by Dr. Alan M. Stahl, Princeton University: "Wealth and Power in Medieval Venice: The Condulmer Family in the Century after the Black Death." Alan StahlAlan Stahl

The lives of several members of the Condulmer family exemplify the varied opportunities open to merchants in Venice in the period 1350 to 1450. One member, Giacomo, bought his way into the nobility through major acts of public benefaction, a cousin Guglielmo used the fortune he made in money lending and the bullion trade to lead a life of extravagant display, and a third member Gabriele benefited from a judicious marriage alliance to ascend to the papacy. These examples are taken from an ongoing research project based on a database of the public and private lives of thousands of Venetians from all walks of life.

THIS LECTURE IS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. 7:00 p.m. in 120 Elmer L. Andersen Library on the U of M's west bank campus (map and driving directions). A dessert reception will follow the talk. RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED. To reserve your seat, contact the James Ford Bell Library: 612-624-1528 or jfbell@umn.edu


Center for Early Modern History Workshops

The Center for Early Modern History workshops provide an opportunity for scholars to present and discuss their work in an informal setting. Papers often circulate in advance. Visit the Center for Early Modern History's website for more information.

October 12, 2012; 12:15-1:30 p.m. 1210 Heller Hall A workshop with Joanne M. Ferraro, San Diego State University, Department of History: “Faults in the Venetian Marital Regime: The Social Consequences of Arranged Marriage, Failed Marriage, Secret Marriage, and Cohabitation”.



December 14, 2012; 12:15-1:30 p.m. 1210 Heller Hall A lecture by Lisa Pons, Southern Methodist University, Department of Art History: "Isolating Contagion in Early Modern Venice"



Institute for Advanced Study TEMS Workshop

Theorizing Early Modern Studies (TEMS) is a collaborative, interdisciplinary workshop investigating Europe and the wider world during the early modern period (late 16th-early 19th centuries). TEMS has three primary endeavors: 1) to undertake and promote research that moves beyond traditional Liberal Arts themes, methodologies, and disciplinary divisions; 2) to create conditions promoting truly collaborative research involving the humanities and social sciences; 3) to further both the research of participants and the field-shaping conversations to which their work contributes.


December 13, 2012; 5:00 p.m., 235 Nolte Center for Continuing Education Lisa Pon A Work-in-Progress seminar by Lisa Pons, Art History, Southern Methodist University: "Catching Fire."









Consortium Carissimi


The Venetian composer Giovanni Gabrieli (ca. 1555-1612) was one of the most influential musicians of his time, a pioneer of The Venetian School in the period of transition from Renaissance to Baroque music. Join the Consortium Carissimi in early October for one of three special performances of his work.

The Rose Ensemble


Italian music features in the Rose Ensemble's 7th Annual Greater Minnesota Tour. Learn More

Italian Cultural Center

The Italian Cultural Center is the home for Italian culture in the Twin Cities. Adult language classes, special events, and much, much more.



Support for Celebrating Venice! comes from:

  • Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation
  • The Whitney Foundation
  • Associates of the James Ford Bell Library
  • Friends of the University of Minnesota Libraries
  • Center for Medieval Studies
  • Center for Early Modern History
  • Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota



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    Weekends: Closed
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