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Public Renaissance: Urban Cultures of Public Space in Renaissance Europe

Posted By Massimo Rospocher, Wednesday, May 4, 2016

CFP: Public Renaissance: Urban Cultures of Public Space in Renaissance Europe

Organizers: Fabrizio Nevola (University of Exeter); Massimo Rospocher (Italian-German Historical Institute, Trent); Anne-Laure Van Bruaene (University of Ghent)


Town squares and the main urban public spaces in the Renaissance period are often represented and studied as ceremonial sites, as theatres of civic and religious rituals or as spaces controlled and regulated by the authorities. This series of panels aim to deconstruct the paradigm of the "ceremonial city" in order to reveal the dynamic nature of public space and everyday street life in Renaissance Europe. It wishes to demonstrate how public spaces were lived and used in ways that undermined or subverted official conceptions of order and control.

Defined by the everyday social actions of gender, work, family, politics, and religion enacted by individuals and groups, the Renaissance public spaces were "spaces in motion". We are seeking papers from across the disciplines which will examine how citizens appropriated spaces and rituals, re-elaborated them in autonomous and unforeseen ways, creating “practiced spaces”. Thus papers will explore the ambiguities and tensions between ceremonial/official and practiced/informal public spaces, as well as how formal ceremonial events might be met by local or popular acts of contestation (e.g. during the papal possesso or princely joyeuses entrées). Public Renaissance is a concept that evokes a non-elitist reading of Renaissance culture exemplified by an interest in ordinary people and the everyday.


Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

- public staging of everyday governance (e.g. reading of proclamations)

- social gatherings in ‘semi-public’ spaces (e.g. tavern, street corner, parish church etc.)

- political uses of public spaces

- use of public space in performance and contestation

- visual and material culture of public spaces

- regulation and control of public space


Please send abstract (max. 150 words) and a brief CV (max. 250 words) to Massimo Rospocher ( by the 27 of May 2016.

Tags:  material culture  political communication  public space  public sphere  taverns 

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