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Italian Renaissance Humanism in the Mirror

Part of Ideas in Context

  • Date Published: April 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107530690


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About the Authors
  • This important study takes a new approach to understanding Italian Renaissance humanism, based not on scholarly paradigms or philosophical concepts but on a neglected yet indispensable perspective: the humanists' understanding of themselves. Through a series of close textual studies, Patrick Baker excavates what humanists thought was important about humanism, how they viewed their own history, what goals they enunciated, what triumphs they celebrated - in short, he attempts to reconstruct humanist identity. What emerges is a small, coherent community dedicated primarily not to political ideology, a philosophy of man, an educational ethos, or moral improvement, but rather to the pursuit of classical Latin eloquence. Grasping the significance this stylistic ideal had for the humanists is essential to understanding both their sense of themselves and the importance they and others attached to their movement. For eloquence was no mere aesthetic affair but rather appeared to them as the guarantor of civilisation itself.

    • Proposes a new interpretation of Italian Renaissance humanism
    • Focuses on actor's categories rather than on extraneous philosophical concepts
    • Draws on a collection of neglected sources to make fresh material available for the first time
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'His book will serve as a useful reference. He writes with verve, makes perceptive observations, and, when he translates from the Latin, he does so competently.' John Monfasani, Renaissance Quarterly

    'This book, which is elegantly written and impeccably presented, provides a useful corrective to modern assumptions about Renaissance humanism; it offers a contextualized analysis of hitherto little-studied texts, and gives a more balanced account of the humanistic movement … It provides an interesting insight into the importance of studying humanistic writings produced in non-Florentine contexts, as well as in vernacular culture.' Maude Vanhaelen, Modern Language Review

    'However, with his methodologically stringent approach, his familiarity with the huge literature on fifteenth-century Italian humanism, and his mastery of the Latin sources, Patrick Baker actually achieves what he set out to do, namely to offer us a new and stimulating answer to an old and vexing question: how to define the essence of Renaissance humanism? I recommend his book to all students of Italian Renaissance humanism.' Marianne Pade, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107530690
    • length: 358 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 151 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The renaissance of eloquence
    2. The scholastic studia humanitatis and the hagiography of humanism
    3. The triumph of Cicero
    4. Philology, printing, and the perfection of humanism
    5. Humanism in the mirror
    Appendix: the pantheon of humanism

  • Author

    Patrick Baker, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
    Patrick Baker (FAAR '13) received his PhD in History from Harvard University, Massachusetts in 2009 and is currently a Senior Research Associate at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Primarily an intellectual historian of late medieval and early modern Italy, his scholarship has focused on Renaissance humanism, the transformative reception of the classical tradition, and historiography. He has won fellowships from the American Academy in Rome, the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, and Villa I Tatti. In 2014 he published an English translation of two monographic essays by the late Salvatore Camporeale (co-edited with Christopher S. Celenza), entitled Christianity, Latinity, and Culture: Two Studies on Lorenzo Valla, which includes an English version of Valla's Encomium of St Thomas Aquinas. He is a member of the Renaissance Society of America, the International Association for Neo-Latin Studies, and the Verband der Historiker und Historikerinnen Deutschlands. He has organized several academic conferences, including 'Portraying the Prince in the Renaissance: The Humanist Depiction of Rulers in Historiographical and Biographical Texts' (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, November 2014) and 'Beyond Reception: Renaissance Humanism and the Transformation of Classical Antiquity' (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, March 2015).

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