At the start of the new year, we want to take the opportunity to highlight some of the fantastic work being done in the field of Renaissance Studies by looking back at the books published with the Renaissance and Early Modern Worlds of Knowledge book series in 2023. We will also give a sneak preview of an up-coming work which will be published in 2024.
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 – https://www.routledge.com/Routledge-Studies-in-Renaissance-and-Early-Modern-Worlds-of-Knowledge/book-series/ASHSER4043.
2023 Book Round-Up
Towards an Equality of the Sexes in Early Modern France, ed. Derval Conroy (Routledge, 2023)
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.
Mariana Labarca, Itineraries and Languages of Madness in the Early Modern World: Family Experience, Legal Practice, and Medical Knowledge in Eighteenth-Century Tuscany (Routledge, 2023)
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.
Euhemerism and Its Uses: The Mortal Gods, ed. Syrithe Pugh (Routledge, 2023)
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.
Anglo-Dutch Connections in the Early Modern World, eds. Sjoerd Levelt, Esther van Raamsdonk, Michael D. Rose (Routledge, 2023)
This ground-breaking collection reveals the networks of interrelation between Early Modern England and the Dutch Republic. As people, ideas and goods moved back and forth across the North Sea – or spread further afield in the vanguard of globalisation and empire – Anglo-Dutch relations shaped all aspects of life, with profound implications still relevant today. A diverse range of expert scholars share new research in their discipline, ranging across technology, trade, politics, religion and the arts. Different aspects of this history of competition, alliance, migration and conflict are taken up by each chapter, providing the reader with detailed case studies as well as the broader background and its historical roots. Anglo-Dutch Connections in the Early Modern World aims to be both accessible and innovative. It will be essential to students and researchers interested in European politics, intellectual history, and shared Anglo-Dutch society, while showcasing current research in multiple facets of the Early Modern World.
Nil Ö. Palabıyık, Silent Teachers: Turkish Books and Oriental Learning in Early Modern Europe, 1544–1669 (Routledge, 2023)
Silent Teachers considers for the first time the influence of Ottoman scholarly practices and reference tools on oriental learning in early modern Europe. Telling the story of oriental studies through the annotations, study notes and correspondence of European scholars, it demonstrates the central but often overlooked role that Turkish-language manuscripts played in the achievements of early orientalists. Dispersing the myths and misunderstandings found in previous scholarship, the book offers a fresh history of Turkish studies in Europe and new insights into how Renaissance intellectuals studied Arabic and Persian through contemporaneous Turkish sources. This story hardly has any dull moments: the reader will encounter many larger-than-life figures, including an armchair expert who turned his alleged captivity under the Ottomans into bestselling books; a drunken dragoman who preferred enjoying the fruits of the vine to his duties at the Sublime Porte; and a curmudgeonly German physician whose pugnacious pamphlets led to the erasure of his name from history. Taking its title from the celebrated humanist Joseph Scaliger’s comment that books from the Muslim world are ‘silent teachers’ and need to be explained orally to be understood, this study gives voice to the many and varied Turkish-language books that circulated in early modern Europe and proposes a paradigm-shift in our understanding of early modern erudite culture.
Sam Kennerley, Rome and the Maronites in the Renaissance and Reformation: The Formation of Religious Identity in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Routledge, 2023)
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, 2023)
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.
Protestant Politics Beyond Calvin Reformed Theologians on War in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, eds. Ian Campbell, Floris Verhaart (Routledge, 2023)
The Reformed (or Calvinist) universities of sixteenth and seventeenth-century Europe hosted rich, Latin-language conversations on the nature of politics, the powers of kings and magistrates, resistance, revolution, and religious warfare. Nevertheless, it is too often assumed that Reformed political thought did not develop beyond John Calvin’s Institutes of 1559. This book remedies this problem, presenting extracts from major Reformed theologians and intellectuals (including Peter Martyr Vermigli, Guillaume de Buc, David Pareus, Lambert Daneau, and Bartholomäus Keckermann) which demonstrate both continuity and change in Reformed political argument. These men taught in France, the Holy Roman Empire, the Low Countries, and England, between the 1540s and 1660s, but they were read in universities throughout the North Atlantic world into the eighteenth century. Should all political action be subject to God’s direct command? Were humans capable of using their own God-given reason to tell right from wrong? Was it ever just to resist tyrants? Was religious difference enough by itself to justify war? Their political doctrines often aroused the greatest controversy in their own time; this is generally the first time that these extracts from their works have been translated into English. These texts and translations are accompanied by an introduction placing these authors in the context of the great European religious wars, advice on further reading, and a full bibliography.
Disaster in the Early Modern World Examinations, Representations, Interventions, eds. Ovanes Akopyan, David Rosenthal (Routledge, 2023)
How did early modern societies think about disasters, such as earthquakes or floods? How did they represent disaster, and how did they intervene to mitigate its destructive effects? This collection showcases the breadth of new work on the period ca. 1300-1750. Covering topics that range from new thinking about risk and securitisation to the protection of dikes from shipworm, and with a geography that extends from Europe to Spanish America, the volume places early modern disaster studies squarely at the intersection of intellectual, cultural and socio-economic history. This period witnessed fresh speculation on nature, the diffusion of disaster narratives and imagery and unprecedented attempts to control the physical world. The book will be essential to specialists and students of environmental history and disaster, as well as general readers who seek to discover how pre-industrial societies addressed some of the same foundational issues we grapple with today.
Forthcoming to be published in 2024
Kaarlo Havu, Juan Luis Vives: Politics, Rhetoric, and Emotions (Routledge, 2024) – January 8, 2024
By looking at rhetoric and politics, this book offers a novel account of Juan Luis Vives’ intellectual oeuvre. It argues that Vives adjusted rhetorical theory to a monarchical context in which direct speech was not a possibility, demonstrated how Erasmian languages of ethical self-government and political peace were actualised rhetorically and critically in a princely environment, and finally, rethought the cognitive and emotional foundations of humanist rhetoric in his late and famous De anima et vita (1538). Ultimately, towards the end of his life, Vives epitomised a distinctively cognitive view of politics; he maintained that political concord was not a direct outcome of institutional or legal reform or of the spiritual transformation of the Christian world (an optimistic Erasmian interpretation) but that concord could only be upheld once the dynamics of emotions that motivated political action were understood and controlled through responsible rhetoric that respected decorum and civility.
Information about all our books is available on the Routledge website and we will be posting updates on these as well as brief interviews with various authors in the coming months. In the meantime, Happy New Year from the Society for Renaissance Studies!