ItalianROSE explores the complex ties and interdependencies underpinning the cultural production of the Italian Renaissance. It unsettles long-held assumptions about what was ‘Italian’ about the ‘Italian Renaissance’. We deploy a connective methodology that demonstrates Italy’s cultural indebtedness to outside influences. Weaving together existing research on minorities and creating detailed studies of diversity in little-studied regions, this new perspective promises to energize and inform research on Italy and to bring its history into dialogue with the global turn in early modern studies.
It is now accepted that the global turn in early modern studies must result in a completely new understanding of European history. Our project feeds into this ambitious enterprise; its findings will aim in turn to stimulate new research on the connected zones of the Mediterranean and Alpine regions. Building on recent research dedicated to ethnic and religious diversity, race, slavery, migration and mobility in the early modern world, this project will contribute granular data to a newly decentred model of the period. Rather than studying Italy as a contained unit, epitomized through the experience of its most famous cities, we shall open up our research to investigate the porosity of political and geographical borders and to explore the myriad connections that linked the peninsula to broader contexts and regions.
Our research questions cluster in three interconnected areas:
What role did minorities play in forging the Italian Renaissance? How did the ethnic and religious diversity of the peninsula shape cultural creativity? What are the dividends of taking minorities out of their silos and exploring interconnections and encounters between groups?How were bodily practices and cultural artefacts relating to food, dress, work and religion shaped by the presence of foreign people and materials? Can the concept of ‘Renaissance Italy’ survive the decolonisation of historical scholarship and museum curation?
To what extent was Renaissance innovation fostered by exchange across territories and cultures? How did interactions between people of different ethnic origin condition the cultural creativity for which this historical moment is famed? How were materials, skills and designs from elsewhere imported into Italy and embedded into the arts of the Renaissance? How does new attention to artisanal processes in Italy contribute to the global turn in Renaissance studies? How did the polyglossia of the marketplace shape cultural production in the workshops?
How does our vision of the Renaissance change when we shift our gaze from the internal conditions of Italian cities to the movement of people and goods? What were the most influential spaces and networks of exchange? How significant were the porous coastal and frontier regions of Southern, Central and Northern Italy in defining the Renaissance? How can the material analysis of artefacts and works of art shed light on the global dimensions of the Italian Renaissance?
The ItalianROSE project launched in the summer of 2023 and runs until 31 May, 2026.