We are beginning our studies this Fall Quarter at about the year 1600. Therefore we are jumping in to Western Civilization after more than 4500 years of preceding events. Especially challenging, will be relating our studies last year on the Renaissance to this year's studies on Modern Italy. Where does the Renaissance end and where does "Modern" begin? Or a better question: Is the Renaissance itself the beginning of the Modern world? Or was the Renaissance really modern, or was it just the tail end of the whole Medieval Transition from the Ancient to the Modern? Historians have never agreed on this question. Whole schools of history see the Renaissance as old fashioned and stuck in the past. They say that nothing really new emerged until after 1600. But then what do we do with Leonardo da Vinci or Christopher Columbus or Copernicus? Certainly they were all part of Modernity, and at the same time pure Renaissance men. So it seems all the rules and regulations about periods and dates get very troubling when we come to the question of the end of the Renaissance and the thing we called Modernity. These are the questions we should use our first night to discuss.
1. What was the Renaissance; where did it begin?
2. When did the Renaissance end? Or did it ever end?
3. When did European culture stop being Renaissance and start being something else?


This is the best one-volume history of Italy that includes the modern part that we want. It provides you with a nice introduction to earlier periods and those of you who studied the Renaissance last year will find these chapters an easy review. You can read about the earlier periods a bit each week tip you get up to 1600. We will use the book all year.

Christopher Duggan,

A Concise History of Italy,

Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (January 20, 2014),

ISBN 0521747430

Here are two books that we used last year in our Renaissance Class that some of you may find helpful in these first weeks.

J. R. Hale, The Civilization of Europe in the Renaissance.  This study of the whole Renaissance period in all of Europe was the final masterpiece of one of the greatest historians of the Early Modern period.  John Hale was working on this book when he suffered a debilitating stroke.  But his wife, Sheila Hale, and other scholars finished the book for publication and we are all enriched by its availability.  It is in print, but you might also look at used copies of the original quality paperback.  This book will serve us for the whole year-long course.  It is especially useful for Winter and Spring Quarters.

John Hale,

The Civilization of Europe in the Renaissance,

Scribner, Reprint edition (June 1, 1995),

ISBN 0684803526


This is a beautiful book which covers the whole of the Renaissance in every field and every country. Margaret King is one of the greatest American scholars of the Renaissance, and she has written a very useful general book on the subject. What is especially attractive, is all the extra material: the charts, the maps, the photos, all of which make this a great study of the Renaissance. It would be a useful "textbook" for our whole year on the Renaissance. It was, of course, designed as a college textbook for a course on the Renaissance. If you buy a new copy, it is 35$ but there are many used copies listed on Amazon.

Margaret L. King, is Professor Emerita of history at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She is the author of several books on women, humanism, and Venice in the Renaissance, and is currently editor-in-chief of the Renaissance and Reformation online bibliography published by Oxford Bibliographies.

Margaret L. King,

The Renaissance in Europe,

Laurence King Publishing; 2 edition (January 1, 2003),

ISBN 1856693740