Language and Images of Renaissance Italy.Language and Images of Renaissance Italy is a collection of papers given at the Courtauld Institute, University of London For most practical purposes, ranging from admission of students to negotiating funding from the government, the 19 constituent colleges are treated as individual universities. Within the university federation they are known as Recognised Bodies , in June 1990. The conference reassessed Jacob Burckhardt's view of the Renaissance, especially his thesis on modernity and individualism, from the perspective of recent family and gender studies. All but five of the original conference papers are included, with the addition of two new papers by Patricia Fortini Brown and by Lauro Martines. E.H. Gombrich gives the conference's prolusion, while Alison Brown is the author of a clear, thoughtful introduction and the editor of the book which she organizes into three parts.
The five papers of part 1 question the relationship of the Renaissance with antiquity. Salvatore Settis advances the notion that the concept of revival was not new to the fifteenth century but indigenous to antiquity, specifically to the Gallienic Renaissance of the third century A.D. Robert Black relates the idea of a Renaissance to the controversy over the Donation of Constantine Donation of Constantine: see Constantine, Donation of.
Donation of Constantine
Document concerning the supposed grant by the emperor Constantine I (the Great) to Pope Sylvester I (314–335) and later popes of temporal power over Rome and the . He argues that some medieval intellectuals had already maintained that the Donation coincided with cultural darkness. What Petrarch does is apply a concept of the history of the church to secular history, with the result that "[t]he Donation for Petrarch becomes the fundamental turning point in the history of civilization - the end of antiquity and hence it represents a crucial defining feature of the concept of Renaissance" (66). In the next paper, Quentin Skinner provides an engaging reinterpretation re·in·ter·pret
tr.v. re·in·ter·pret·ed, re·in·ter·pret·ing, re·in·ter·prets
To interpret again or anew.
re of Hans Baron's view of republicanism. Republicanism existed before Petrarch, Bruni, or Machiavelli, and is thus not an essential element in the notion of decline or renewal of antiquity. According to Skinner, Machiavelli, unlike the humanists, dismissed the Ciceronian view of concord and justice as essential to a city's greatness.
In the last two papers of part 1, Jessie Ann Owens examines the "validity and usefulness" (112) of the term Renaissance to show a break with the past or a partial designation in musicology musicology, systematized study of music and musical style, particularly in the realm of historical research. The scholarly study of music of different historical periods was not practiced until the 18th cent., and few published efforts were rigorously researched. , while Fortini Brown maintains that the artistic and literary models of Venice show that the city adopted an eclectic approach with the main inspiration coming not from Greece or Rome, but from Aquileia (where Saint Mark had preached), and from Byzantine Constantinople.
Religion and social history are the main themes of part 2, which proposes new ways of interpreting the Renaissance as a cultural revival. Amanda Lillie downplays the usual association of the villa with antiquity. The villa was essentially an agricultural center of power. William Hood, William Kent, and Samuel K. Cohn question Burckhardt's notion of individualism. Hood investigates the use of monumental paintings as "vehicles for cultural self-definition" (160) in quattrocento quat·tro·cen·to
The 15th-century period of Italian art and literature.
[Italian, short for (mil) quattrocento, one thousand four hundred : quattro, four (from Latin Florentine churches. Kent argues that family and religious ties were more important than individualism in the cultural patronage of quattrocento Florence. Cohn discovers significant differences in his study of about 3,400 wills from Tuscan and Umbrian cities. There is, however, he says, a crucial similarity - the "importance of the male line in property descent and its corollary, the disadvantageous dis·ad·van·ta·geous
dis·advan·ta property status of women" (232).
Part 3 attempts to "reread Verb 1. reread - read anew; read again; "He re-read her letters to him"
read - interpret something that is written or printed; "read the advertisement"; "Have you read Salman Rushdie?" the concept of the Renaissance body." In her study on portraiture, Patricia Simons argues that the period's artefacts emphasize man, not women's equality. The other two papers of the last section, by John M. Najemy and by Martines, present tantalizing tan·ta·lize
tr.v. tan·ta·lized, tan·ta·liz·ing, tan·ta·liz·es
To excite (another) by exposing something desirable while keeping it out of reach. views of the period. Najemy's sophisticated study shows how the Renaissance held "a bewildering be·wil·der
tr.v. be·wil·dered, be·wil·der·ing, be·wil·ders
1. To confuse or befuddle, especially with numerous conflicting situations, objects, or statements. See Synonyms at puzzle.
2. variety of images" of the body (260). Normally humanist writers hid the dangerous nature of the political body, unlike Machiavelli who uncovered the disturbing features both of the political and natural body. Martines gives us a glimpse of Renaissance society through the literary genre of the novella novella: see novel.
Story with a compact and pointed plot, often realistic and satiric in tone. Originating in Italy during the Middle Ages, it was often based on local events; individual tales often were gathered into collections. .
The book offers challenging new views of the Renaissance and succeeds in questioning the Burckhardtian interpretation. In the end, however, we are still left with no alternative to Burckhardt's synthesis, even if his interpretation looks more and more like a colander.
ANTONIO SANTOSUOSSO University of Western Ontario Western is one of Canada's leading universities, ranked #1 in the Globe and Mail University Report Card 2005 for overall quality of education. It ranked #3 among medical-doctoral level universities according to Maclean's Magazine 2005 University Rankings.