Dennis Romano

This page reflects a scholar's association with the Folger Institute.

Long-term fellowship

"Fraud and Deception in Early Modern Italy, c. 1450 to c. 1600" (Mellon, 2012–2013)

Evidence from a wide variety of sources indicates that early modern Italians were obsessed with fraud and deception in a wide variety of contexts. Focusing primarily on the Republic of Florence (later the Duchy—and then the Grand Duchy—of Tuscany) and the Republic of Venice between circa 1450 and circa 1600, this project explores both the practice and the discursive concern with fraud and deception in republican politics and court culture, diplomacy, trade and manufacturing, social relations, and religion in order to offer an anatomy and analysis of fraud and its place in the early modern Italian world. The Folger Library’s extensive collection of early modern Italian books contains most of the texts that are essential to the study of key components of the project.

Emerging from my forthcoming study of the marketplace in late medieval Italy in which I demonstrate that market relations were understood not in terms of competition but rather as an effort to overcome the mistrust that was generated by the fear of being defrauded, this project offers the opportunity to investigate how early modern Italians asked (and answered) key questions regarding the relationship between appearance and reality, truth and falsehood, self-interest and the common good, and replication, imitation, and innovation. This examination will offer a new perspective on a world undergoing radical transformation and in which emerging technologies increased the opportunities for fraud and deception.

Scholarly Programs

Chair, panel on "Trading Goods: Networks and the Dynamics of Growth and Decline," at Early Modern Cities in Comparative Perspective (Conference, 2012–2013)

Participant, Connections, Trust, and Causation in Economic History (Weekend Seminar, 2007–2008)

Participant, Renaissance Venice: Continuity and Change (Conference, 1993)