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  • The Renaissance in the Streets, Schools, and Studies: Essays in Honour of Paul F. Grendler
  • Paul Nelles (bio)
Konrad Eisenbichler and Nicholas Terpstra, editors The Renaissance in the Streets, Schools, and Studies: Essays in Honour of Paul F. Grendler. CRRS Publications, Victoria University in the University of Toronto 2008. 374, xii. $37.00

This collection of essays by former colleagues and students pays tribute to a scholar who has made a lasting mark on the study of Renaissance Italy through scores of articles and a number of highly influential books on the history of printing, censorship, and education. For more than thirty years Paul Grendler taught Renaissance history at the University of Toronto; he has also served as editor of a number of widely disseminated reference works that have brought the Renaissance to a broad audience. [End Page 254]

The essays gathered here all intersect in meaningful ways with Grendler's work. Grendler's scholarship has focused on institutions, groups, and processes rather than individuals, an orientation echoed in many of the essays in this volume. Nicholas Terpstra offers a nuanced social and political analysis of a Bologna confraternity, one of many such lay organizations in Renaissance Italy, that offered spiritual solace to condemned prisoners on the eve of their execution. Thomas Deutscher explores the workings of a northern Italian episcopal tribunal, and Paul Murphy examines Jesuit entanglement in a popular pilgrimage site at Loreto. James Farge charts the emergence of censorship in France by tracing the uneasy alliance struck by the Sorbonne Faculty of Theology, the Parlement of Paris, and the Crown. Farge's conclusions about censorship in France echo Grendler's findings for Italy: though censorship was a creaking and imperfect process, it nonetheless had a real impact on authors, printers, and readers.

Much of Grendler's work has explored the relationship of culture and politics in the Renaissance. Here, Ronald Witt deftly ties the arrival of lay history writing in the early Renaissance to an emerging class of well-educated notaries and to social and political tensions in the Italian city states. Mary Hewlett roots a failed 1546 attempt to undermine Medici political dominance in the humanist inclinations of the plot's originator, whose musings on classical authors reveal a figure eager to establish a free, pan-Tuscan federation on the model of the ancient Etruscans. The essays by Konrad Eisenbichler, Erika Rummel, and Antonio Santosuosso explore cultural reception; Eisenbichler's study of the legacy of written responses to popular theatrical performances in diaries and confraternity records suggests that the social staging of theatrical events was likely far more important to Renaissance audiences than the play itself.

In recognition of Paul Grendler's enduring contribution to our understanding of Renaissance education in two important monographs on schools and universities, several essays tackle the subject of education directly. Margaret King explores the maternal role in education over four centuries, showing how mothers gradually came to assume a central role in early education - until challenged by the kindergarten system in the nineteenth century. Mark Lewis compares the careers of two humanist teachers in the Jesuit colleges of the society's Neapolitan province. Lewis sheds light on the shifting fortunes of the teaching mission of the society, and on how humanism both aided the Jesuit preaching mission and rendered the Jesuit colleges attractive to social and political elites.

John O'Malley, in an insightful essay on the state of Renaissance studies over the course of Grendler's career, shows that while the importance of education for Renaissance humanists had long been recognized, few [End Page 255] before Grendler had broached the issue of what actually went on in Renaissance schools. Building on both Grendler's work and his own, O'Malley argues convincingly that the most significant legacy of the Renaissance is to be located in the successful institutionalization of the humanist program in schools spanning the breadth of Europe. The volume fittingly concludes with an appreciation of Paul Grendler's contributions to academic life at the University of Toronto by William Callahan.

Paul Nelles

Paul Nelles, Department of History, Carleton University



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