Doctors, Ambassadors, Secretaries: Humanism and Professions in Renaissance Italy / Edition 2by Douglas Biow
Renaissance humanism was a program of study committed to the revival of letters and rhetoric, and it focused on such issues as the relation of then-present practices to the classical past, the possibility of exemplarity, and self-fashioning. In general, humanists did not teach with the aim of placing their students within specific occupations. But as Douglas Biow… See more details below
Renaissance humanism was a program of study committed to the revival of letters and rhetoric, and it focused on such issues as the relation of then-present practices to the classical past, the possibility of exemplarity, and self-fashioning. In general, humanists did not teach with the aim of placing their students within specific occupations. But as Douglas Biow shows in this pioneering study, humanists remained concerned with the formation of professional identities. Examining a wide range of works that humanists wrote as doctors, ambassadors, and secretaries, and about medical, ambassadorial, and secretarial vocations, Biow shows how humanists embraced and discussed different professions in profoundly different ways.
Humanists such as Petrarch, for instance, were hostile to medicine, even though the profession was established long before humanism became a field of study. Yet more and more doctors sought to raise the status of their profession by embracing humanism, and some adopted humanist teachings in writings on syphilis and the plague. The work of ambassadors, meanwhile, was congenial to humanists from the outset. The humanist concern for oratory sparked interest in diplomats as spokesmen for sovereign powers. As humanists wrote about the work of ambassadors, and in the process directly or indirectly about themselves, they fashioned the profession against the classical ethos they revered yet sought to perfect. The profession of the secretary in the Renaissance, finally, was largely a humanist invention. Secretarial duties were debated and defined toward the latter half of the sixteenth century in a spate of highly influential Italian treatises; in the secretary, humanists fashioned a profession for a society in which social mobility within secular and ecclesiastical bureaucracies had become increasingly possible.
Examining a rich and diverse selection of treatises, poems, and other works of literature, Doctors, Ambassadors, Secretaries shows ultimately how interactions with these professions forced humanists to make their studies relevant to their own times, uniting theory and practice in a way that strengthened their humanism. With detailed analyses of writings by familiar and lesser-known figures, from Petrarch, Machiavelli, and Tasso to Maggi, Fracastoro, and Barbaro, this book will especially interest students of Renaissance Italy, but also anyone concerned with the rise of professionalism during the early modern period.
- University of Chicago Press
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- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)
Table of Contents
Introduction: Humanism and Professions in Renaissance Italy
1. Petrarch's Profession and His Laurel
2. Three Reactions to Plague: Marvels and Commonplaces in Medicine and Literature
3. Fracastoro as Poet and Physician: Syphilis, Epic, and the Wonder of Disease
4. Exemplary Work: Two Venetian Humanists Writing on the Resident Ambassador
5. The Importance and Tragedy of Being an Ambassador: The Performance of Francesco Guicciardini
6. Open Secrets: The Place of the Renaissance Secretary
7. The Secretarial Profession among Others: Tasso's Enabling Analogies
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