Cora Presezzi

Cora Presezzi

Ahmanson Fellow
In the midst of the world, at the end of time. The Valley of Jehoshaphat in Renaissance Italy (14th-17th century)
Cora Presezzi


Cora Presezzi is a historian of philosophy. She holds a Ph.D. from Sapienza University and she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Istituto Italiano di Studi Filosofici in Naples. Her publications and research mostly focus on the religious and cultural history, the history of Christian theological doctrines, and the Christian apocryphal narratives’ reception from late antiquity to the early modern age. Over the last two years she has been a Research Fellow at the Istituto Italiano di Studi Germanici in Rome, within a project devoted to the German reception of Machiavelli. She is a member of the “Società Italiana delle Storiche” and part of the scientific board of the Research Center “Laboratorio Erasmo”, Sapienza University. Her forthcoming monograph deals with Simon Magus narratives and their interweaving with Faust legend in early modern European culture.

Project Summary

How did Renaissance men and women figure the place where the Last Judgment would take place? Through which kind of media and in which form did the ancient trans-religious myth of the Valley of Jehoshaphat circulate in Renaissance Italy? This project aims to investigate the history and metamorphoses of the biblical Valley of Jehoshaphat’s image in the Italian culture, particularly in Tuscany and the Venetian Republic, between the 14th and 17th century. Analyzing heterogeneous sources and highlighting interactions between different levels of culture, the research aims to construct a “typology” of one of the most ancient and mysterious eschatological myths’ reception in Renaissance culture. Focusing on cases of highly innovative reworking, the research will be questioning the interpretative scheme of a passive reception of the so-called “pastoral of fear” by the faithful, and discussing the 14th century hypothesized shift from a paradigm of “collective eschatology” to one of “individual eschatology”. Investigating how a much older and broader tradition was reworked in circumscribed chronological and geographical contexts, the purpose of the project is to provide an insight into the social actors’ conceptions about their relationship with the afterlife and the unique future event affecting both living and dead people, namely the awaiting for the Final Judgment. At the same time, it will analyze whether and to what extent afterlife-related beliefs of extra-biblical origin also participated in what might be labeled as a “vernacularization” of a biblical myth, whose cultural meaning is irreducible to the one proposed by the official theology.