The Society of Dilettanti:
Archaeology and Identity in the British Enlightenment

Jason M. Kelly

Publicaton Date
May 2009
Standard Number
Yale University Press
366 pages

In 1732 a group of elite young men who had met on the grand tour formed a convivial dining club called the Society of Dilettanti. By the middle of the 18th century the Dilettanti took on an influential role in cultural matters, organizing archaeological expeditions, forming the Royal Academy and the British Museum, and ultimately becoming one of the most prominent and influential societies of the British Enlightenment.

This lively and illuminating account is the most detailed analysis of the early Society of Dilettanti to date. Jason M. Kelly places the group at the complex intersection of international and national discourses that shaped the British Enlightenment; thus, it sheds new light on 18th-century grand tourism, elite masculinity, sociability, aesthetics, architecture, and archaeology.