The Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, D.E. and The Department of Spanish and Portuguese invite you to:
Elvira Vilches, Duke University
Wednesday Nov. 09
Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall
3:00 – 5:00 pm
Reckoning with Commerce: Trade, Ars Mercatoria, and Culture in Early Modern Spain
Early modern culture held universal trade as an intriguing force shaped not by the rules of logic, coherence, or order, but by passions, interests, and creativity. The prominence of trade for its advantages and uncertainties is registered in the proliferation of treatises and debates on trade, money, and credit published from the 1540s onwards. Beyond treatises written by late scholastic and mercantilist thinkers, trade and all sort of transactions figure prominently in the print culture of the period from business handbooks to travel narratives and figurative writings. The ramifications of these debates in literary discourse resulted in contrasting reactions that either criticized or welcomed the new world of money. I suggest these explorations result in fluid discourses integrating markets and business culture within a larger literary and intellectual awareness of mercantile culture. My argument considers conversations about commercial expansion, finance, private and public monetary practices, the arts of commerce and its cultural ramifications. These aspects define a mercantile culture that reckoned with commerce by becoming numerate and learning about all aspects of finance.