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A Short History of the Italian Renaissance

A Short History of the Italian Renaissance
Virginia Cox

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Description

The extraordinary creative energy of Renaissance Italy lies at the root of modern Western culture. In her elegant new introduction, Virginia Cox offers a fresh vision of this iconic moment in European cultural history, when - between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries - Italy led the world in painting, building, science and literature. Her book explores key artistic, literary and intellectual developments, but also histories of food and fashion, map-making, exploration and anatomy. Alongside towering figures such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Petrarch, Machiavelli and Isabella d'Este, Cox reveals a cast of lesser-known protagonists including printers, travel writers, actresses, courtesans, explorers, inventors and even celebrity chefs. At the same time, Italy's rich regional diversity is emphasised; in addition to the great artistic capitals of Florence, Rome and Venice, smaller but cutting-edge centres such as Ferrara, Mantua, Bologna, Urbino and Siena are given their due.

As the author demonstrates, women played a far more prominent role in this exhilarating resurgence than was recognized until very recently - both as patrons of art and literature and as creative artists themselves. 'Renaissance woman', she boldly argues, is as important a legacy as 'Renaissance man'.

Author Info

Virginia Cox is Professor of Italian at New York University. She is the author of The Prodigious Muse: Women's Writing in Counter-Reformation Italy, Women's Writing in Italy, 1400-1650 and The Renaissance Dialogue: Literary Dialogue in its Social and Political Contexts, Castiglione to Galileo.

Review

‘Virginia Cox’s short history of the Italian Renaissance is an exemplary introduction – concise, lucid, elegant, balanced, perceptive and accessible. It summarizes traditional views of the Renaissance, especially Jacob Burckhardt’s, criticizes them, and offers a revised interpretation of the movement. Cox’s Renaissance is, in her own words, “broader and deeper” than its predecessors. She places more emphasis than usual on the coexistence and conflict between different ideas and styles. She re-interprets Burckhardt’s idea of Renaissance “individualism” with the aid of recent work on social psychology. Her book includes discussions of the applied arts, notably fashion, as well as a chapter on “the Renaissance woman”, based on the author’s own research. Students will be grateful for this book, general readers will enjoy it, and fellow-scholars will be appreciative of the knowledge and thought underlying its apparently effortless production.’
Peter Burke, FBA, Emeritus Professor of Cultural History, University of Cambridge, author of The Italian Renaissance

‘This is a short and pithy book by an outstanding scholar at the top of her game. Prioritizing literature, it uses newly-discovered or unfamiliar writings to re-describe social classes, as well as topics like individualism and gender. Its innovative chapters on “Renaissance Man” and — especially — “Renaissance Woman” help to reset the agenda for understanding the Italian Renaissance, making this book an invaluable twenty-first-century guide, not only for students but for the rest of us as well.’
Alison Brown, Emerita Professor of Italian Renaissance History, Royal Holloway, University of London, author of The Renaissance

‘Virginia Cox’s creative, original, and well-argued study of the Italian Renaissance should be on the bookshelf of every reader interested in the period. Cox gives attention not only to classical scholarship and those who practised it, but also to those who used it in their everyday lives. She presents short, judiciously chosen case studies that illuminate Renaissance art-making and collecting. And she writes with an expert hand about what it was like to live as a man or woman in the Renaissance, again by limiting her focus to exemplary cases that illuminate much larger realities. This short volume should be a go-to book for scholars teaching courses in the Renaissance as well as for general readers who want an introduction to the period that wears its considerable scholarship lightly. The writing throughout is crisp and elegant, with not a wasted word in sight.’
Christopher S Celenza, Charles Homer Haskins Professor of Classics and German and Romance Languages and Literatures, Johns Hopkins University, author of Machiavelli: A Portrait and The Lost Italian Renaissance: Humanists, Historians, and Latin’s Legacy

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd.
Series: I.B. Tauris Short Histories

Paperback
ISBN: 9781784530785
Publication Date: 30 Oct 2015
Number of Pages: 256
Height: 216
Width: 138
Illustrations: 33 b/w integrated, 2 maps

Hardback
ISBN: 9781784530778
Publication Date: 30 Oct 2015
Number of Pages: 256
Height: 216
Width: 138
Illustrations: 33 b/w integrated, 2 maps

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