In 1616, Monteverdi told Alessandro Striggio that he couldn’t imitate winds because they are not human. “Ariadne moved us because she was a woman and similarly Orpheus because he was a man.” But what if Orpheus was not a man driven by his own internal passions and creative instincts but instead was an automaton—an inanimate machine with spontaneous motion and sound creation.
Until about 50 years ago, the prevailing account of Boccaccio’s Decameron was of an unreflective celebration of the natural, especially sexual, world, which in turn was said to play an equally unreflective role in the emergence of the kind of secularly based realistic representation whose history Auerbach sketches and celebrates in Mimesis.
Istituto degli Innocenti, Sala Brunelleschi Piazza della Santissima Annunziata 50121 Firenze
The Renaissance is a historiographical fable of the nineteenth century. Twentieth-century art history was shaped by various forms of dissatisfaction with the patterns and priorities it imposed. Few scholars, however, grasped the unresolved tension within the concept of Renaissance between an affirmative unrest (rebirth, a beginning) and the promise of closure through integration (the classic, an endpoint).
A model of ‘Civic religion’, understood as municipal attempts to develop legitimacy through sacred language and devotional activities, is now widely used by historians of late medieval and renaissance Europe.
The contention that before the late eighteenth century learned opinion held that there was only one sex, famously proposed by Thomas Laqueur in Making Sex (1990), has achieved near-canonical status in the eyes of many historians and literary scholars. In this seminar, Park will argue that this “one-sex” body was never hegemonic in Latin Europe and will propose an alternative narrative to describe evolving ideas of sex difference among European natural philosophers and medical men.