SRS Book Series: Renaissance and Early Modern Worlds of Knowledge – 2021 Book Round-Up

December 31, 2021
By SRS Book Series

              As the year draws to a close, we want to take the opportunity of looking back on the fantastic work being done in the field of Renaissance Studies and the books that have been published with the Renaissance and Early Modern Worlds of Knowledge book series in 2021. These authors cover a wide range of intellectual, religious, print, and political history across the Renaissance period, and links to all of the books mentioned here can be found via the Routledge website –


Euhemerism and Its Uses: The Mortal Gods, ed. Syrithe Pugh (Routledge, 2021)
              Euhemerism and Its Uses offers the first interdisciplinary, focussed, and all-round view of the long history of an important but understudied phenomenon in European intellectual and cultural history. Euhemerism – the claim that the Greek gods were historically mortal men and women – originated in the early third century BCE, in an enigmatic and now fragmentary text by the otherwise unknown author Euhemeros. This work, the Sacred Inscription, has been read variously as a theory of religion, an atheist’s manifesto, as justifying or satirizing ruler-worship, as a fantasy travel-narrative, and as an early ‘utopia’. Influencing Hellenistic and Roman literature and religious and political thought, and appropriated by early Christians to debunk polytheism while simultaneously justifying the continued study of classical literature, euhemerism was widespread in the middle ages and Renaissance, and its reverberations continue to be felt in modern myth-theory. Yet, though frequently invoked as a powerful and pervasive tradition across several disciplines, it is still under-examined and poorly understood. Filling an important gap in the history of ideas, this volume will appeal to scholars and students of classical reception, mediaeval and Renaissance literature, historiography, and theories of myth and religion.


Towards an Equality of the Sexes in Early Modern France, ed. Derval Conroy (Routledge, 2021)

              This volume sets out to examine the ways in which an equality between the sexes is constructed, conceptualised, imagined or realised in early modern France, a period and a country which produced some of the earliest theorisations on equality. In so doing, it aims to contribute towards the development of the history of equality as an intellectual category within the history of political thought, and to situate “the woman question” within that history. The eleven chapters in the volume span the fields of political theory, philosophy, literature, history and history of ideas, bringing together literary scholars, historians, philosophers and scholars of political thought, and examining an extensive range of primary sources. Whilst most of the chapters focus on the conceptualisation of a moral, metaphysical or intellectual equality between the sexes, space is also given to concrete examples of a de facto gender equality in operation. The volume is aimed at scholars and graduate students of political thought, history of philosophy, women’s history and gender studies alike. It aims to throw light on the history of Western ideas of equality and difference, questions which continue to preoccupy cultural historians, philosophers, political theorists and feminist critics.


Marco Sgarbi, Francesco Robortello (1516-1567): Architectural Genius of the Humanities (Routledge, 2021)

              This book explores the intellectual world of Francesco Robortello, one of the most prominent scholars of the Italian Renaissance. From poetics to rhetoric, philology to history, topics to ethics, Robortello revolutionised the field of humanities through innovative interpretations of ancient texts and with a genius that was architectural in scope. He was highly esteemed by his contemporaries for his acute wit, but also envied and disparaged for his many qualities. In comparison with other humanists of his time such as Carlo Sigonio and Pier Vettori, Robortello had a deeply philosophical vein, one that made him unique not only to Italy, but to Europe more generally. Robortello’s role in reforming the humanities makes him a constituent part of the long-fifteenth century. Robortello’s thought, however, unlike that of other fifteenth-century humanists, sprung from and was thoroughly imbued with a systematic, Aristotelian spirit without which his philosophy would never have emerged from the tumultuous years of the mid-Cinquecento. Francesco Robortello created a system for the humanities which was unique for his century: a perfect union of humanism and philosophy. This book represents the first fully fledged monograph on this adventurous intellectual life.


Mariana Labarca, Itineraries and Languages of Madness in the Early Modern World: Family Experience, Legal Practice, and Medical Knowledge in Eighteenth-Century Tuscany (Routledge, 2021)

              Drawing on a wide range of sources including interdiction procedures, records of criminal justice, documentation from mental hospitals, and medical literature, this book provides a comprehensive study of the spaces in which madness was recorded in Tuscany during the eighteenth century. It proposes the notion of itineraries of madness, which, intended as an heuristic device, enables us to examine records of madness across the different spaces where it was disclosed, casting light on the connections between how madness was understood and experienced, the language employed to describe it, and public and private responses devised to cope with it. Placing the emotional experience of the Tuscan families at the core of its analysis, this book stresses the central role of families in the shaping of new understandings of madness and how lay notions interacted with legal and medical knowledge. It argues that perceptions of madness in the eighteenth century were closely connected to new cultural concerns regarding family relationships and family roles, which resulted in a shift in the meanings of and attitudes to mental disturbances.


Sam Kennerley, Rome and the Maronites in the Renaissance and Reformation: The Formation of Religious Identity in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Routledge, 2021)

              Rome and the Maronites in the Renaissance and Reformation provides the first in-depth study of contacts between Rome and the Maronites during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. This book begins by showing how the church unions agreed at the Council of Ferrara-Florence (1438-1445) led Catholics to endow an immense amount of trust in the orthodoxy of Christians from the east. Taking the Maronites of Mount Lebanon as its focus, it then analyses how agents in the peripheries of the Catholic world struggled to preserve this trust into the early sixteenth century, when everything changed. On one hand, this study finds that suspicion of Christians in Europe generated by the Reformation soon led Catholics to doubt the past and present fidelity of the Maronites and other Christian peoples of the Middle East and Africa. On the other, it highlights how the expansion of the Ottoman Empire caused many Maronites to seek closer integration into Catholic religious and military goals in the eastern Mediterranean. By drawing on previously unstudied sources to explore both Maronite as well as Roman perspectives, this book integrates eastern Christianity into the history of the Reformation, while re-evaluating the history of contact between Rome and the Christian east in the early modern period. It is essential reading for scholars and students of early modern Europe, as well as those interested in the Reformation, religious history, and the history of Catholic Orientalism.


Eleanor Chan, Mathematics and the Craft of Thought in the Anglo-Dutch Renaissance (Routledge, 2021)

              The development of a coherent, cohesive visual system of mathematics brought about a seminal shift in approaches towards abstract thinking in western Europe. Vernacular translations of Euclid’s Elements made these new and developing approaches available to a far broader readership than had previously been possible. Scholarship has explored the way that the language of mathematics leaked into the literary cultures of England and the Low Countries, but until now the role of visual metaphors of making and shaping in the establishment of mathematics as a practical tool has gone unexplored. Mathematics and the Craft of Thought sheds light on the remarkable culture shift surrounding the vernacular language translations of Euclid, and the geometrical imaginary that they sought to create. It shows how the visual language of early modern European geometry was constructed by borrowing and quoting from contemporary visual culture. The verbal and visual language of this form of mathematics, far from being simply immaterial, was designed to tantalize with material connotations. This book argues that, in a very real sense, practical geometry in this period was built out of craft metaphors.


              There are more books forthcoming that will be published with the SRS Book Series in 2022. Information about these is available on the Routledge website and we will be posting updates on these as well as brief interviews with various authors in the new year. In the meantime, Happy New Year from the Society for Renaissance Studies!

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