Download Myths of Renaissance Individualism by John Jeffries Martin (auth.) PDF

By John Jeffries Martin (auth.)

The concept that the Renaissance witnessed the emergence of the fashionable person is still a strong fable. during this very important new e-book Martin examines the Renaissance self with consciousness to either social historical past and literary idea and provides a brand new typology of Renaissance selfhood which was once without delay collective, performative and porous. even as, he stresses the layered traits of the Renaissance self and the salient position of interiority and notions of inwardness within the shaping of id. Myths of Renaissance Individualism , in brief, will curiosity scholars not just of background but in addition of artwork heritage, literature, track, philosophy, psychology and religion.

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Significantly, the journeys did always involve a progressive radicalization of beliefs as we see, for example, in the notorious vacillations of Francesco Spiera, who moved from Catholicism to Calvinism, who renounced his heresies, and then, after expressing remorse over his abjuration, died convinced he would go to hell. We see something of this also among those heretical figures who were able to conform outwardly to Catholicism while harboring Protestant beliefs or tendencies secretly within. Contemporaries were certainly aware of the extremes to which such religious particularism could go within the context of the reform movements in Italy.

In the end, the selves I portray are not the apparently modern or postmodern figures that we often assume were the norm in this age. Sixteenth-century selfhood was, in fact, something far more elusive – indeed it is something tantalizingly difficult to grasp. To be sure, for many, one’s identity was largely prescribed by the larger social groups (family, guild, community) to which one belonged. Nonetheless, European culture in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was shaped to no small degree by struggles over questions of identity, even questions of collective identity.

In an explicit counterpoint to Burckhardt, who saw the development of Renaissance individualism as the result of the decline of traditional solidarities, associations, and forms of community, Weissman notes that [i]f anything, the Renaissance town suffered from too much community, rather than from individualism or anomie. 25 Yet there is another important sense in which identity is not reducible either to one’s social location or even to the multiple social groupings in which one was embedded. For, as I have argued in the introduction, Renaissance identities were never exclusively a function of social life.

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