Visiting Speakers

SCEMS welcomes visiting speakers on a regular basis. 

Spring 2015

Thursday 5 March, 4.15pm

Dr Claudio Marsilio, Lisbon

FOR KING, FOR COMMONWEALTH, OR FOR PROFIT? Genoese and Portuguese bankers and Spanish silver in 17th century England

Location: Jessop West, Seminar Room 4

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the public credit market of the Spanish Empire used Genoese and Portuguese bankers as intermediaries. The asiento was a typical form of short-term borrowing which paid high rates of interest reimbursed in silver (both bullion and coins), which could be sold not only to private economic agents but also to public mints all over Europe. The precious metal was delivered from the principal Spanish Mediterranean ports (Barcelona, Cartagena, Dénia, and Alicante) to the port of Genoa. In some odd cases, usually linked to war or difficulties in the international credit market, the Genoese financial operators also used private galleys to bring silver to Liguria. The new peace treaty with England (1630) encouraged an unexpected new commercial opportunity for the Genoese and Portuguese bankers.

In ‘For King, for Commonwealth, or for profit’, Dr Marsilio will trace the shifting transactions, asking who were the English participants in a new sector of silver trade and what were its goals.

DR CLAUDIO MARSILIO is a FCT Postdoctoral Fellow based at the Universidade Técnica de Lisboa (Lisbon – Portugal) and a specialist in the economic and financial history of Early Modern Europe.

Thursday 19 March, 5pm

Dr Maria Zytaruk, Calgary

Early Modern Collecting and Objects of Sociability

Location: Jessop West, Seminar Room 8

The logic that underpinned Benjamin Franklin’s project to establish a subscription library in colonial Philadelphia was simple.  “By thus clubbing our Books to a common Library,” writes Franklin in the Autobiography, all subscribers would enjoy the benefits of a larger selection of reading material than they could afford to assemble on their own.  The ways in which the Library Company of Philadelphia provided “book capital” to members, fostered sociability, and served as a mechanism for self-improvement have been much discussed by scholars.  What has received rather less attention is the museum component of the Library Company.
This paper explores the non-book collection of Franklin’s library and establishes, for the first time, the precise dynamics that governed this museum.  What has hitherto been considered a half-hearted attempt by the Library Company to emulate continental cabinets of curiosities emerges as a much more innovative and even subversive approach to the institution of the museum.

DR MARIA ZYTARUK is Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Calgary. She specializes in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century literature and culture.  Her work is highly interdisciplinary, as the topic of this paper shows.  Publications include an essay on the botanical artist Mary Delany and natural history, and she has a forthcoming article in The Journal of British Studies on elegy and the Foundling Hospital tokens.   In April 2015, she will be the Anthony and Beatrice Garvan Fellow in American Material Culture at the Library Company of Philadelphia.