Faculty Books

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  • Humanism and Creativity in the Renaissance: Essays in Honor of Ronald G. Witt

  • 2006, Brill Academic Publishers
  • , editor
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This volume comprises original contributions from 17 scholars whose work and careers Ronald Witt has touched in myriad ways. Intellectual, social, and political historians, a historian of philosophy and an art historian: specialists in various temporal and geographical regions of the Renaissance world here address specific topics reflecting some of the major themes that have woven their way through Ronald Witt’s intellectual cursus. While some essays offer fresh readings of canonical texts and explore previously unnoticed lines of filiation among them, others present “discoveries,” including a hitherto “lost” text and overlooked manuscripts that are here edited for the first time. Engagement with little-known material reflects another of Witt’s distinguishing characteristics: a passion for original sources. The essays are gathered under three rubrics: “Politics and the Revival of Antiquity”; “Humanism, Religion, and Moral Philosophy”; and “Erudition and Innovation.”



Las Novelas ejemplares publicadas en 1613 constituyen, segun indica el propio autor, el primer ejemplo de relato corto en la literatura castellana, de acuerdo con el significado en esa epoca de la palabra “novela.” Esta edicion sigue la edicion principe de Juan de la Cuesta y corrige las posibles erratas.


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William Egginton argues that the notion of the ethical cannot be understood outside of its relation to perversity—that is, the impulse to do what one knows and feels is wrong. The allure of the perverse, moreover, should not be understood as merely the necessary obverse of ethically motivated behavior; rather, from the perspective of a psychoanalytic understanding of the ethical, the two drives are structurally identical. This discovery leads the author to engagements with deconstructive thought and with contemporary gender theory. In the first, he shows that the insistent resurgence of the ethical fault-line inevitably drives even the most stalwart atheism to a theological moment. In the second, he argues that while “female philosophy” has successfully repudiated the subject-centered exceptionalism of “male philosophy,” it is precisely to the extent that it is understood to offer a kind of release from the perversity of ethics that it must fail as ethical utterances.


  • The Lost Italian Renaissance: Humanists, Historians, and Latin’s Legacy

  • 2005, Johns Hopkins University Press
  • , author
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The intellectual heritage of the Italian Renaissance rivals that of any period in human history. Yet even as the social, political, and economic history of Renaissance Italy inspires exciting and innovative scholarship, the study of its intellectual history has grown less appealing, and our understanding of its substance and significance remains largely defined by the work of 19th-century thinkers. In The Lost Italian Renaissance, historian and literary scholar Christopher Celenza argues that serious interest in the intellectual life of Renaissance Italy can be reinvigorated—and the nature of the Renaissance itself reconceived—by recovering a major part of its intellectual and cultural activity that has been largely ignored since the Renaissance was first “discovered”: the vast body of works—literary, philosophical, poetic, and religious—written in Latin.

Produced between the mid-14th and the early 16th centuries by major figures such as Leonardo Bruni, Lorenzo Valla, Marsilio Ficino, and Leon Battista Alberti, as well as minor but interesting thinkers like Lapo da Castiglionchio the Younger, this literature was initially overlooked by scholars of the Renaissance because they were not written in the vernacular Italian which alone was seen as was the supreme expression of a culture. This lack of attention, which continued well into the 20th century, has led interpreters to misread key aspects of the Renaissance. Offering a flexible theoretical framework within which to understand these Latin texts, Celenza explains why these “lost” sources are distinctive and why they are worthy of study.

What will we really find among the Latin texts of the Renaissance? First, Celenza contends, there are a limited number of intellectuals who deserve a place in any canon of the period, and without whom our literary and philosophical heritage is diminished. Second, and more commonly, this literature establishes the intellectual traditions from which such well-known vernacular writers as Machiavelli and Castiglione emerge. And third, these Latin texts may contain strands of intellectual life that have been lost altogether. A groundbreaking work of intellectual history, The Lost Italian Renaissance uncovers a priceless intellectual legacy suggests provocative new avenues of research.


Winner of Modern Languages Association Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Studies

In this impressively interdisciplinary study, Evelyne Ender revisits master literary works to suggest that literature can serve as an experimental laboratory for the study of human remembrance. She shows how memory not only has a factual basis but is inseparable from fictional and aesthetic elements. Beautifully written in accessible prose, and impressive in its scope, the book takes up works by Proust, Woolf, George Eliot, Nerval, Lou Andreas-Salome, and Sigmund Freud, getting to the heart of essential questions about mental images, empirical knowledge, and the devastations of memory loss in ways that are suggestive and profound. Architexts of Memory joins a growing body of work in the lively field of memory studies, drawing from clinical psychology, psychoanalysis, and neurobiology as well as literary studies.


A browser’s delight of proverbs, just in time for the 400th anniversary of Cervantes’s classic, The Wit and Wisdom of Don Quixote de la Mancha distills the timeless insight and humor of the masterpiece into a charming gift-size collection ideal for any lover of literature and great quotations.

Decorated with rich illustrations and assembled with a historical introduction by Cervantes scholar Harry Sieber, the quotations in this book are arranged according to theme for quick reference. Readers will easily discover the perfect quote for any occasion or topic. From Love and Hope, to Prudence and Prosperity, to Honor and Honesty, Don Quixote is famous for countless proverbs that have stood the test of time.

After 400 years, these sayings are still with us today, and the best are gathered in this literary volume. In the words of the immortal Man of La Mancha, “Thou hast seen nothing yet.”


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The Pragmatic Turn in Philosophy explores how the various discursive strategies of old and new pragmatisms are related, and what their pertinence is to the relationship between pragmatism and philosophy as a whole. The contributors bridge the divide between analytic and continental philosophy through a transcontinental desire to work on common problems in a common philosophical language. Irrespective of which side of the divide one stands on, pragmatic philosophy has gained ascendancy over the traditional concerns of a representationalist epistemology that has determined much of the intellectual and cultural life of modernity. This book details how contemporary philosophy will emerge from this recognition and that, in fact, this emergence is already underway.


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On September 20, 1587, Walpurga Hausmännin of Dillingen in southern Germany was burned at the stake as a witch. Although she had confessed to committing a long list ofmaleficia (deeds of harmful magic), including killing forty—one infants and two mothers in labor, her evil career allegedly began with just one heinous act—sex with a demon. Fornication with demons was a major theme of her trial record, which detailed an almost continuous orgy of sexual excess with her diabolical paramour Federlin “in many divers places, . . . even in the street by night.”

As Walter Stephens demonstrates in Demon Lovers, it was not Hausmännin or other so-called witches who were obsessive about sex with demons—instead, a number of devout Christians, including trained theologians, displayed an uncanny preoccupation with the topic during the centuries of the “witch craze.” Why? To find out, Stephens conducts a detailed investigation of the first and most influential treatises on witchcraft (written between 1430 and 1530), including the infamous Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches).

Far from being credulous fools or mindless misogynists, early writers on witchcraft emerge in Stephens’s account as rational but reluctant skeptics, trying desperately to resolve contradictions in Christian thought on God, spirits, and sacraments that had bedeviled theologians for centuries. Proof of the physical existence of demons—for instance, through evidence of their intercourse with mortal witches—would provide strong evidence for the reality of the supernatural, the truth of the Bible, and the existence of God. Early modern witchcraft theory reflected a crisis of belief—a crisis that continues to be expressed today in popular debates over angels, Satanic ritual child abuse, and alien abduction.


What is special, distinct, modern about modernity? In How the World Became a Stage, William Egginton argues that the experience of modernity is fundamentally spatial rather than subjective and proposes replacing the vocabulary of subjectivity with the concepts of presence and theatricality. Following a Heideggerian injunctive to search for the roots of epochal change not in philosophies so much as in basic skills and practices, he describes the spatiality of modernity on the basis of a close historical analysis of the practices of spectacle from the late Middle Ages to the early modern period, paying particular attention to stage practices in France and Spain. He recounts how the space in which the world is disclosed changed from the full, magically charged space of presence to the empty, fungible, and theatrical space of the stage.