“In moving past the constraints imposed by the so-called Baron thesis, the essays in this volume allow for an innovative focus on Renaissance humanism as a set of ‘practices’ determined more by social structures and networks than by specific historical events. In so doing, a number of these studies open up new areas of scholarly exploration.”
- Scott Blanchard, Misericordia University
“The essays collected in this volume are remarkable for both the variety of their approaches and the depth of their analysis. Spanning no less than five centuries of Italian history and evaluating their interpretation by some of the most influential modern scholars, they once again prove the Renaissance to be a crucial time period when discussing such issues as the role of the humanities in shaping a state’s identity and providing paradigms of civic behaviour.”
- Stefano Baldassarri, International Studies Institute, Florence
The thirteen essays in this volume demonstrate the multiplicity of connections between learning and politics in Renaissance Italy. Some engage explicitly with Hans Baron’s “civic humanism” thesis illustrating its continuing viability, but also stretching its application to prove the limitations of its original expression. Others move beyond Baron’s thesis to examine the actual practice of various individuals and groups engaged in both political and learned activities in a variety of diverse settings. The collective impression of all the contributions is that of a complex, ever-shifting mosaic of learned enterprises in which the well-examined civic paradigm emerges as just one of several modes that explain the interaction between learning and politics in Italy between 1300 and 1650. The model that emerges rejects any single category of explanation in favour of one that emphasizes variety and multiplicity. It suggests that learning was indispensible to all politics in Renaissance Italy and that, in fact, at its heart the Renaissance was a political event as much as a cultural movement.
Nicholas Scott Baker teaches early modern European history at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. He is the author of The Fruit of Liberty: Political Culture in the Florentine Renaissance, 1480-1550 (Harvard UP, 2013).
Brian Jeffrey Maxson teaches history at East Tennessee State University, where he is also Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies. He is the author of The Humanist World of Renaissance Florence (Cambridge UP, 2014).
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