Savonarola’s censure of the earthly, task-oriented art of prudence, and the resulting praise of the same virtue as the traditional Christian value that subordinates human common good to the honour of God, initiated a debate destined to continue mostly unabated for nearly five centuries. Emblemized in Machiavelli’s Prince, in the Age of Discoveries this dispute evolved parallel to the European exploration, and subsequent colonization of the planet. The reformation of pivotal moral and political Renaissance idea(l)s led to the gradual development of diversified historiographical narratives less concerned with the actions and intentions of rulers, and more concentrated on the social effects those interventions produced. Whereas scholars have amply and convincingly demonstrated the cultural and disciplinary implications of the paradigmatic shift from political theory to political practice in doctrinal treatises and historical commentaries, its effects on contemporary travel accounts have attracted less attention.

In this talk I investigate the literary and rhetorical means through which the Florentine merchant and traveller Francesco Carletti discussed the events and ethnicities portrayed in his travel account, entitled My Voyage around the World, establishing a narrative praxis based on the commonality of human nature and actions. Specifically, I explore Carletti’s uneasy compromise between the divisive virtues of the Universal (i.e., Christian) Man, and the Machiavellian echoes that inform a pioneering intellectual moral ground upon which to emphasise a shared, dialectical meaning of the Dignity of Man that could transcend European symbolism and potentially embrace in its rationale all inhabitants of the Global Theatre of the World.

Gianluca Caputo obtained his PhD from La Trobe University in 2013 with a thesis that explored the generative functions Italian representations of Japan performed in shaping Italian intra-, and international identities. He recently published a monograph entitled The Dawn of Japan between myth and historiography: birth and evolution of the Japanese alterity in the Italian culture, 1300-1600 (Florence: Olschki, 2016). He has previously published essays on the active multidisciplinary role that European representations of Japan, and more broadly of Modern Asian civilizations, played in the making of the Medieval and Renaissance Italian culture. He works at RMIT and La Trobe University, where he teaches contemporary Italian language and culture, Italian Medieval and Renaissance literature, and Intercultural Communication.


Room 18

Level 3

Building 37

RMIT City Campus

411 Swanston Street



5 June 2018