I Tatti Research Series




The I Tatti Research Series is dedicated to ongoing projects at the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. Its volumes expand on themes explored during conferences and seminars and cover a wide spectrum of disciplines including art history, architecture, history, philosophy, literature, music, and the history of science.

The series examines all aspects of the Italian Renaissance — broadly understood to include the period from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries. At the same time, it investigates dialogues between Renaissance Italy and other regions around the world, in addition to the period’s roots in classical antiquity and its enduring impact on modernity.

Assembling essays written by internationally renowned as well as aspiring younger scholars, this peer-reviewed series reflects I Tatti’s ambitious conference and research activities. The Research Series is published in conjunction with Officina Libraria. Outside Italy, its volumes are distributed through Harvard University Press.

Global Gold: Aesthetics, Material Desires, Economies in the Late Medieval and Early Modern World
Gold as a material and gold as a value becomes a truly universal equivalent in the early modern world as global economies begin to emerge after 1492. The essays in Global Gold present both the aesthetic and economic conditions that immediately precede the emergence of this global commerce as well as the immediate and various consequences of those interactions. Through interdisciplinary essays by scholars of European, American, African, and Asian history and art history, the differences and commonalities of gold’s monetary, economic, and aesthetic roles are explored within the crucible of a unique historical period of transition, conquest, and the exploitation of natural and human resources.
Lost and Found: Locating Foundlings in the Early Modern World
Terpstra, Nicholas, ed. 2024. Lost and Found: Locating Foundlings in the Early Modern World. Harvard University Press. Publisher's Version Abstract
Florence’s foundling home of the Innocenti is often taken as a symbol of Renaissance creativity, innovation, and humanity. Its progressive approach to caring for abandoned children was matched by the iconic architectural form designed one of the period’s leading architects, Filippo Brunelleschi. Did reality match the reputation? The essays in Lost and Found explore new dimensions and contexts for foundling care at the Innocenti and use archival documents and digital tools to locate it architecturally, geographically, and socially. They ask questions that reframe the Ospedale degli Innocenti in different contexts and open paths for further research: Was Brunelleschi’s design a failure? How can digital tools recover the Innocenti’s lost spaces and extensive real estate holdings? What did the law say about foundlings and abandonment? What was it like to live in the Innocenti and in homes elsewhere? What roles did race and enslavement play in infant abandonment?
The Mongol Empire in Global History and Art History
Dunlop, Anne, ed. 2023. The Mongol Empire in Global History and Art History. Harvard University Press. Publisher's Version Abstract

With the rise of projects to create global histories and art histories, the Mongol Empire is now widely taken as a fundamental watershed. In the later thirteenth century, the Mongol states reconfigured the basic zones of Eurasian trade and contact. For those they conquered, and for those who later overthrew them, new histories and narratives were needed to account for the Mongol rise. And as people, ideas, and commodities circulated in these vast and interconnected spaces, new types of objects and new visual languages were created, shifting older patterns of artistic production. The Mongol rise is now routinely cast as the first glimmering of an early modernity, defined as an ever-increasing acceleration in systems of contact, exchange, and cultural collision.

Yet what is at stake in framing the so-called Pax Mongolica in this way? What was changed by the Mongol rise, and what were its lasting legacies? It is the goal of essays in this book to address these and other questions about the Mongol impact and their modern role, and to make these debates more widely available. Contributors include specialists of Mongol history and historiography as well as Islamic, East Asian, and European art, writing on topics from historical chronicles to contemporary historiography, and case studies from textile production to mapmaking and historical linguistics.

Ariosto and the Arabs: Contexts for the Orlando Furioso
Casari, Mario, Monica Preti, and Michael Wyatt, ed. 2022. Ariosto and the Arabs: Contexts for the Orlando Furioso. Harvard University Press. Publisher's Version Abstract

Among the most dynamic and influential literary texts of the European sixteenth century, Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso (1532) emerged from a world whose horizons were rapidly changing. The poem is a prism through which to examine various links in the chain of interactions that characterized the Mediterranean region from late antiquity through the medieval period into early modernity and beyond. Ariosto and the Arabs takes as its point of departure Jorge Luis Borges’s celebrated short poem “Ariosto y los Arabes” (1960), wherein the Furioso acts as the hinge of a past and future literary culture circulating between Europe and the Middle East. The Muslim “Saracen”—protagonist of both historical conflict and cultural exchange—represents the essential “Other” in Ariosto’s work, but Orlando Furioso also engages with the wider network of linguistic, political, and faith communities that defined the Mediterranean basin of its time.

The sixteen contributions assembled here, produced by a diverse group of scholars who work on Europe, Africa, and Asia, encompass several intertwined areas of analysis—philology, religious and social history, cartography, material and figurative arts, and performance—to shed new light on the relational systems generated by and illustrative of Ariosto’s great poem.

Sacrifice and Conversion in the Early Modern Atlantic World
Sacrifice and Conversion in the Early Modern Atlantic World illuminates a particular aspect of the mutual influences between the European invasions of the American continent and the crisis of Christianity during the Reform and its aftermaths: the conceptualization and representation of sacrifice. Because of its centrality in religious practices and systems, sacrifice becomes a crucial way to understand not only cultural exchange, but also the power struggles between American and European societies in colonial times. How do cultures interpret sacrificial practices other than their own? What is the role of these interpretations in conversion? From the central perspective of sacrifice, these essays examine the encounter between European and American sacrificial conceptions—expressed in texts, music, rituals, and images—and their intellectual, cultural, religious, ideological, and artistic derivations.