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The Italian Renaissance Still Matters: A Compilation of Recent Studies (September 2022): Conclusion

By Brian Jeffrey Maxson


Recent work on the Italian peninsula during the 1300s, 1400s, and 1500s reveals many different Italian Renaissances rather than a single chronology of developments common to everyone. Cultural, political, social, racial, religious, and other factors shaped the types of options available to different people. Different parts of the peninsula interacted with each other and areas near and far in different ways, for different reasons, and with different results. The literary and visual arts varied in different places, having a greater impact on more people than previously imagined. Although the range of experiences makes the sorts of grand narratives previously offered by Burckhardt and Baron difficult to maintain, they make the period no less significant. Understanding the ways that people during the Italian Renaissance experienced social inequalities; racial, religious, and gender-based persecutions; political differences; information overload; brilliant works of art; and revolutionary ideas might not provide direct solutions to such issues in today’s society. Yet, the process of reading about their experiences, constructing one’s own interpretations, presenting cases with evidence, and evaluating the cases of others provides readers with the tools necessary to identify their own shortcomings and then work together to navigate challenges and opportunities. The Italian Renaissance did not birth the modern world, but it can help one learn how to improve the present-day world.