Current projects

Luxury in the Italian Renaissance 1400-1550

For further information email Catherine Kovesi.

Production and Consumption in Maoist China

For further information email Antonia Finnane.

Consumer Culture and the Making of Jewish Identity

Gideon Reuveni

Antisemitic stereotypes of Jews as Capitalist have paralyzed research into the economic dimension of the Jewish past. The figure of the Jew as trader and financier haunted the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. But the economy has been central to Jewish life and the Jewish image in the world. Jews were not only moneymakers but also money-spenders. My study is the first to investigate the crucial and neglected axis of consumption, identity, and Jewish history in Europe. It aims to examine the role and place of consumption within Jewish society and the ways consumerism generated and reinforced Jewish notions of belonging from the end of the nineteenth-century to the beginning of the new millennium. It will show how the advances of modernisation and secularisation in the modern period increased the importance of consumption in Jewish life, making it to a significant factor in the process of re-defining Jewishness. By assuming a "consumerist" approach to the history of European Jews, this study will move research beyond the common binary divisions in the history of Jews that tend to oscillate between approaches stressing the inclusion of Jews and those which highlight their exclusion.

For further information email Gideon Reuveni.

Globalising the Magic System: a history of advertising industry practices in Australia 1959-1989

Dr Jackie Dickenson (project manager)

Professor John Sinclair from the Australian Centre (SHAPS, UOM) leads a team of international scholars - Associate Professor Robert Crawford (UTS), Professor Linda Brennan (RMIT University), Professor Susan Smulyan (Brown, USA) and Dr Sean Nixon (Essex, UK) - on this ARC-funded project (DP120100777).

The project sheds light on the complex relationship between advertising and Australian society by recording, for the first time, the impact of globalisation on the work practices of this significant but under analysed industry. Most advertising studies concentrate on the analysis of the end product, the advertisements. This project is significant because it examines the processes through which these advertisements are produced, including hiring practices, agency hierarchies, client/agency relations, and technological change.

For further information email Dr Jackie Dickenson.

Merchant Identity in London, 1473-1650

Merridee Bailey

This project seeks to broaden our current narrow understanding of merchant culture in late medieval and early modern London. It will analyse the construction of identity in Guild and court records with the mental worlds of merchants reflected in merchants’ literature. I am investigating the processes by which merchant identity was constructed; the marked increase in debt litigation in facilitating a new social identity; and the critical function of emotional attributes such as honesty and trustworthiness in identifying the essential characteristics of medieval and early modern merchant practices.

For further information email Merridee Bailey.

Printshop to Piazza: Cheap Print and Urban Culture in Renaissance Venice

Rosa Salzberg

This project, also the title of my 2014 monograph (Manchester University Press, 2014), explores the way in which the new technology of print infiltrated the lives of people across the entire spectrum of society in the form of cheap printed pamphlets, broadsheets, and fliers, which were sold for very little, posted up and proclaimed, or given out for free. It argues that, within the unique cityscape of Venice, print quickly became woven into the matrix of oral and written communication that underpinned urban life. Other published and forthcoming articles also explore the crucial role of street sellers and performers as agents in the commercial and cultural life of Italian Renaissance cities.

For further information contact Rosa Salzberg.

Past projects

  • Helen Davies. Emile and Isaac Pereire: Bankers, Socialists and Sephardic Jews in Nineteenth-Century France (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014)
  • Antonia Finnane and Catherine Kovesi. Luxury's Defining Moments in Renaissance Italy and Ming China (The University of Melbourne Research Grant Scheme 2008 $16,891)
  • Jackie Dickenson. Selling With the Past: History as a Resource in the Production of Advertising Material (The University of Melbourne Early Career Research Grant 2008 $16,000)
  • Antonia Finnane. Consumption in Late Imperial China: An Early Modern Phenomenon? (ARC Discovery Project 2006-8, $120,000)