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At the Margins

Minority Groups in Premodern Italy

2005

Stephen J. Milner, editor

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Reconsiders the nature of societal margins in premodern Italy

By tracing the shifting relations of social margins to centers in Italy between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries the authors challenge entrenched ideas about the nature of the Renaissance and its role in shaping modernity.

Contributors: Judith Bryce, Peter Burke, Samuel K. Cohn Jr., Derek Duncan, Steven A. Epstein, Philip Gavitt, Mary Laven, Michael Rocke, Dennis Romano, Kenneth R. Stow, Anabel Thomas.

The articles, all by well-regarded scholars, are of a uniformly high quality; each one ventures into some aspect of social and cultural history that has received too little attention in traditional scholarship, and each one stands on its own as a scholarly endeavor. This is a book well worth reading. This collection proves that good social and cultural history does not hide its light under a bushel of hyper-specialized, pseudo-technical gobbledygook. At the Margins presents a fine collection of compelling and exceptionally well-researched articles on groups or activities that have attracted less scholarly attention than they deserve. It leaves the reader with a richer, fuller sense of premodern Italian society and the diversity of groups that comprised it.

The Medieval Review

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Tags

History

Slaves, foundlings, prostitutes, nuns, homosexuals, exiles, the elderly, and mountain communities—such groups stood at the margins of society in premodern Italy. But where precisely the margins were was not so easily determined.

Examining these minorities as the buffer zones between more readily recognizable centers, At the Margins explores identity as a process rather than a fixed entity, stressing the multiplicity of groups to which individuals belonged. By tracing the shifting relations of social margins to centers in Italy between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries—and showing how these shifts in turn relate to social order and identity formation—the authors challenge entrenched ideas about the nature of the Renaissance and its role in shaping modernity.

Contributors: Judith Bryce, U of Bristol; Peter Burke, U of Cambridge; Samuel K. Cohn Jr., U of Glasgow; Derek Duncan, U of Bristol; Steven A. Epstein, U of Kansas; Philip Gavitt, St. Louis U; Mary Laven, Jesus College; Michael Rocke, Harvard U; Dennis Romano, Syracuse U; Kenneth R. Stow, U of Haifa; Anabel Thomas.

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Stephen J. Milner is senior lecturer in Italian at the University of Bristol.

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The articles, all by well-regarded scholars, are of a uniformly high quality; each one ventures into some aspect of social and cultural history that has received too little attention in traditional scholarship, and each one stands on its own as a scholarly endeavor. This is a book well worth reading. This collection proves that good social and cultural history does not hide its light under a bushel of hyper-specialized, pseudo-technical gobbledygook. At the Margins presents a fine collection of compelling and exceptionally well-researched articles on groups or activities that have attracted less scholarly attention than they deserve. It leaves the reader with a richer, fuller sense of premodern Italian society and the diversity of groups that comprised it.

The Medieval Review

The volume provides a good methodological framework to explore marginal groups and excellent case studies of minorities in premodern Italy.

Comitatus

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Contents

Editor’s Preface

Part I. The Centrality of Margins

1. Identity and the Margins of Italian Renaissance Culture Stephen J. Milner
2. Margins and Minorities: Contemporary Concerns? Derek Duncan
3. Decentering the Italian Renaissance: The Challenge of Postmodernism Peter Burke

Part II. Negotiating Margins

4. The Ambivalence of Policing Sexual Margins: Sodomy and Sodomites in Florence Michael Rocke
5. Stigma, Acceptance, and the End to Liminality: Jews and Christians in Early Modern Italy Kenneth R. Stow
6. Cast Out and Shut In: The Experience of Nuns in Counter-Reformation Venice Mary Laven
7. From Putteto Puttane: Female Foundlings and Charitable Institutions in Northern Italy, 1530–1630 Philip Gavitt

Part III. Marginal Voices

8. Les Livres des Florentines: Reconsidering Women’s Literacy in Quattrocento Florence Judith Bryce
9. Exile, Rhetoric, and the Limits of Civic Republican Discourse Stephen J. Milner
10. Dominican Marginalia: The Late Fifteenth-Century Printing Press of San Jacopo di Ripoli in Florence Anabel Thomas

Part IV. Minority Groups
11. Slaves in Italy, 1350–1550 Steven A. Epstein
12. The Marginality of Mountaineers in Renaissance Florence Samuel K. Cohn Jr.
13. Vecchi, Poveri, e Impotenti: The Elderly in Renaissance Venice Dennis Romano

Contributors

Index