Christopher S. CelenzaApr 13, 2023
The Italian Renaissance and the Origin of the Humanities
An Intellectual History, 1400-1800
Cambridge University Press 2021
Christopher Celenza is one of the foremost contemporary scholars of the Renaissance. His ambitious new book The Italian Renaissance and the Origin of the Humanities: An Intellectual History, 1400-1800 (Cambridge UP, 2021) focuses on the body of knowledge which we now call the humanities, charting its roots in the Italian Renaissance and exploring its development up to the Enlightenment. Beginning in the fifteenth century, the author shows how thinkers like Lorenzo Valla and Angelo Poliziano developed innovative ways to read texts closely, paying attention to historical context, developing methods to determine a text's authenticity, and taking the humanities seriously as a means of bettering human life. Alongside such novel reading practices, technology – the invention of printing with moveable type – fundamentally changed perceptions of truth. Celenza also reveals how luminaries like Descartes, Diderot, and D'Alembert – as well as many lesser-known scholars – challenged traditional ways of thinking. Celenza's authoritative narrative demonstrates above all how the work of the early modern humanist philosophers had a profound impact on the general quest for human wisdom. His magisterial volume will be essential reading for all those who value the humanities and their fascinating history.
Professor Christopher S. Celenza is the James B. Knapp Dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. He is also a professor of history and classics.
Morteza Hajizadeh is a Ph.D. graduate in English from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research interests are Cultural Studies; Critical Theory; Environmental History; Medieval (Intellectual) History; Gothic Studies; 18th and 19th Century British Literature. YouTube channel.