Slaves, foundlings, prostitutes, nuns, homosexuals, exiles, the elderly, and mountain communities - such groups stood at the margins of society in premodern Italy. But where precisely the margins were was not so easily determined. Examining these minorities as the buffer zones between more readily recognizable centers, At the Margins explores identity as a process rather than a fixed entity, stressing the multiplicity of groups to which individuals belonged. By tracing the shifting relations of social margins to centers in Italy between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries - and showing how these shifts in turn relate to social order and identity formation - the authors challenge entrenched ideas about the nature of the Renaissance and its role in shaping modernity. Behind much cultural theory lies a critique of the centrality of modernity and its foundations in the discourse of Renaissance humanism. And yet, as this volume reveals, the insights of contemporary cultural theory serve to expose the flaws in this picture of cultural hegemony and, in decentering the Renaissance, return it to the heart of cultural debate.
Renaissance writer Laura Cereta (1469–1499) presents feminist issues in a predominantly male venue—the humanist autobiography in the form of personal letters. Cereta's works circulated widely in Italy during the early modern era, but her complete letters have never before been published in English. In her public lectures and essays, Cereta explores the history of women's contributions to the intellectual and political life of Europe. She argues against the slavery of women in marriage and for the rights of women to higher education, the same issues that have occupied feminist thinkers of later centuries.
Yet these letters also furnish a detailed portrait of an early modern woman’s private experience, for Cereta addressed many letters to a close circle of family and friends, discussing highly personal concerns such as her difficult relationships with her mother and her husband. Taken together, these letters are a testament both to an individual woman and to enduring feminist concerns.
Renowned in her day for her scholarship and eloquence, Isotta Nogarola (1418-66) remained one of the most famous women of the Italian Renaissance for centuries after her death. And because she was one of the first women to carve out a place for herself in the male-dominated republic of letters, Nogarola served as a crucial role model for generations of aspiring female artists and writers.
This volume presents English translations of all of Nogarola's extant works and highlights just how daring and original her convictions were. In her letters and orations, Nogarola elegantly synthesized Greco-Roman thought with biblical teachings. And striding across the stage in public, she lectured the Veronese citizenry on everything from history and religion to politics and morality. But the most influential of Nogarola's works was a performance piece, Dialogue on Adam and Eve, in which she discussed the relative sinfulness of Adam and Eve—thereby opening up a centuries-long debate in Europe on gender and the nature of woman and establishing herself as an important figure in Western intellectual history. This book will be a must read for teachers and students of Women's Studies as well as of Renaissance literature and history.
Winner of the 2004 Josephine Roberts Edition Prize from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women.
A brilliant scholar and one of the finest writers of her day, Olympia Morata (1526-1555) was attacked by some as a "Calvinist Amazon" but praised by others as an inspiration to all learned women. This book publishes, for the first time, all her known writings—orations, dialogues, letters, and poems—in an accessible English translation.
Raised in the court of Ferrara in Italy, Morata was educated alongside the daughters of the nobility. As a youth she gave public lectures on Cicero, wrote commentaries on Homer, and composed poems, dialogues, and orations in both Latin and Greek. She also became a prominent Protestant evangelical, studying the Bible extensively and corresponding with many of the leading theologians of the Reformation. After fleeing to Germany in search of religious freedom, Morata tutored students in Greek and composed what many at the time felt were her finest works—a series of translations of the Psalms into Greek hexameters and sapphics.
Feminists and historians will welcome these collected writings from one of the most important female humanists of the sixteenth century.
In this book, Douglas Biow traces the role that humanists played in the development of professions and professionalism in Renaissance Italy, and vice versa. For instance, humanists were initially quite hostile to medicine, viewing it as poorly adapted to their program of study. They much preferred the secretarial profession, which they made their own throughout the Renaissance and eventually defined in treatises in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
Examining a wide range of treatises, poems, and other works that humanists wrote both as and about doctors, ambassadors, and secretaries, Biow shows how interactions with these professions forced humanists to make their studies relevant to their own times, uniting theory and practice in a way that strengthened humanism. His detailed analyses of writings by familiar and lesser-known figures, from Petrarch, Machiavelli, and Tasso to Maggi, Fracastoro, and Barbaro, will especially interest students of Renaissance Italy, but also anyone concerned with the rise of professionalism during the early modern period.
Fascination with ancient Egypt is a recurring theme in Western culture, and here Brian Curran uncovers its deep roots in the Italian Renaissance, which embraced not only classical art and literature but also a variety of other cultures that modern readers don’t tend to associate with early modern Italy. Patrons, artists, and spectators of the period were particularly drawn, Curran shows, to Egyptian antiquity and its artifacts, many of which found their way to Italy in Roman times and exerted an influence every bit as powerful as that of their more familiar Greek and Roman counterparts.
Curran vividly recreates this first wave of European Egyptomania with insightful interpretations of the period’s artistic and literary works. In doing so, he paints a colorful picture of a time in which early moderns made the first efforts to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs, and popes and princes erected pyramids and other Egyptianate marvels to commemorate their own authority. Demonstrating that the emergence of ancient Egypt as a distinct category of historical knowledge was one of Renaissance humanism’s great accomplishments, Curran’s peerless study will be required reading for Renaissance scholars and anyone interested in the treasures and legacy of ancient Egypt.
Emotions depend on language, cultural practices, expectation and moral beliefs. Hate, fear, cruelty and love are always turning history into the history of passion and lust, because emotional life is always ready to overflow intellectual life. This fascinating study of emotion in Renaissance Italy shows that emotions are built and created by the society in which they are expressed and conditioned. The contributors examine, among others, the emotional language of the court, around public execution, religious practices and during outbreaks of disease.
The Renaissance movement known as humanism eventually spread from Italy through all of western Europe, transforming early modern culture in ways that are still being felt and debated. Central to these debates—and to this book—is the question of whether (and how) the humanist movement contributed to the secularization of Western cultural traditions at the end of the Middle Ages. A preeminent scholar of Italian humanism, Riccardo Fubini approaches this question in a new way—by redefining the problem of secularization more carefully to show how humanists can at once be secularizers and religious thinkers. The result is a provocative vision of the humanist movement. Humanism and Secularization offers a nuanced account of humanists contesting medieval ideas about authority not in order to reject Christianity or even orthodoxy, but to claim for themselves the right to define what it meant to be a Christian. Fubini analyzes key texts by major humanists—isuch as Petrarch, Poggio, and Valla—from the first century of the movement. As he subtly works out these authors’ views on religion and the Church from both biographical and textual information, Fubini reveals in detail the new historical consciousness that animated the humanists in their reading of classical and patristic texts. His book as a whole shows convincingly just how radical the humanism of the first half of the fifteenth century was and how sharply it challenged well-entrenched ideas and institutions. Appearing here in English for the first time, his work provides a model set of readings of humanist texts and a critical perspective on Italian humanism that will alter and enrich discussion and understanding of the nature of the humanist movement.
Letters and Orations
Cassandra Fedele University of Chicago Press, 2000 Library of Congress PA8520.F392A27 2000 | Dewey Decimal 875.04
By the end of the fifteenth century, Cassandra Fedele (1465-1558), a learned middle-class woman of Venice, was arguably the most famous woman writer and scholar in Europe. A cultural icon in her own time, she regularly corresponded with the king of France, lords of Milan and Naples, the Borgia pope Alexander VI, and even maintained a ten-year epistolary exchange with Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain that resulted in an invitation for her to join their court. Fedele's letters reveal the central, mediating role she occupied in a community of scholars otherwise inaccessible to women. Her unique admittance into this community is also highlighted by her presence as the first independent woman writer in Italy to speak publicly and, more importantly, the first to address philosophical, political, and moral issues in her own voice. Her three public orations and almost all of her letters, translated into English, are presented here for the first time.
The works of the second-century Greek satirist Lucian enjoyed a tremendous vogue in the early Renaissance. His Greek prose furnished one of the first texts in the Florentine classroom around 1400, and it aroused as much interest as Plato. At first praised as an eloquent rhetorician, Lucian was soon appreciated for his irreverent wit, which inspired new satirical and paradoxical currents in Renaissance literature.
Until now, no study has attempted to connect the Latin translators and imitators of Lucian with his wider European influence. In Lucian and the Latins, David Marsh describes how Renaissance authors rediscovered the comic writings of Lucian. He traces how Lucianic themes and structures made an essential contribution to European literature beginning with a survey of Latin translations and imitations, which gave new direction to European letters in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Lucianic dialogues of the dead and dialogues of the gods were immensely popular, despite the religious backlash of the sixteenth century. The paradoxical encomium, represented by Lucian's "The Fly" and "The Parasite," inspired so-called serious humanists like Leonardo Bruni and Guarino of Verona. Lucian's "True Story" initiated the genre of the fantastic journey, which enjoyed considerable popularity during the Renaissance age of discovery. Humanist descendants of this work include Thomas More's Utopia and much of Rabelais' Pantagruel.
Lucian and the Latins will attract readers interested in a wide variety of subjects: the classical tradition, the early Italian Renaissance, the origins of modern European literature, and the uses of humor and satire as instruments of cultural critique.
David Marsh is Professor of Italian, Rutgers University.
Measurement is all around us—from the circumference of a pizza to the square footage of an apartment, from the length of a newborn baby to the number of miles between neighboring towns. Whether inches or miles, centimeters or kilometers, measures of distance stand at the very foundation of everything we do, so much so that we take them for granted. Yet, this has not always been the case.
This book reaches back to medieval Italy to speak of a time when measurements were displayed in the open, showing how such a deceptively simple innovation triggered a chain of cultural transformations whose consequences are visible today on a global scale. Drawing from literary works and frescoes, architectural surveys and legal compilations, Emanuele Lugli offers a history of material practices widely overlooked by historians. He argues that the public display of measurements in Italy’s newly formed city republics not only laid the foundation for now centuries-old practices of making, but also helped to legitimize local governments and shore up church power, buttressing fantasies of exactitude and certainty that linger to this day.
This ambitious, truly interdisciplinary book explains how measurements, rather than being mere descriptors of the real, themselves work as powerful molds of ideas, affecting our notions of what we consider similar, accurate, and truthful.
Edited by Eugenio Garin University of Chicago Press, 1991 Library of Congress CB361.U5713 1991 | Dewey Decimal 940.21
Compared to the Middle Ages, the Renaissance is brief—little more than two centuries, extending roughly from the mid-fourteenth century to the end of the sixteenth century—and largely confined to a few Italian city states. Nevertheless, the epoch marked a great cultural shift in sensibilities, the dawn of a new age in which classical Greek and Roman values were "reborn" and human values in all fields, from the arts to civic life, were reaffirmed.
With this volume, Eugenio Garin, a leading Renaissance scholar, has gathered the work of an international team of scholars into an accessible account of the people who animated this decisive moment in the genesis of the modern mind. We are offered a broad spectrum of figures, major and minor, as they lived their lives: the prince and the military commander, the cardinal and the courtier, the artist and the philosopher, the merchant and the banker, the voyager, and women of all classes. With its concentration on the concrete, the specific, even the anecdotal, the volume offers a wealth of new perspectives and ideas for study.