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Donald Weinstein, Historian of Civic Religion

Posted By Administration, Monday, December 21, 2015

Donald Weinstein, one of the pioneering postwar American historians who made the Italian Renaissance a premier area of study, died in Tucson, Arizona, on December 13 at age 89. At the time he wrote, historians generally viewed the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries as the birth of modern Europe through the re-birth of secular thinking. Under the influence of Jacob Burckhardt, they saw—in the art of Botticelli, Leonardo and Michelangelo and in the writings of Machiavelli–a return of ancient cultural influences that were classical, humanistic, even pagan. In a groundbreaking 1970 study, Savonarola and Florence: Prophecy and Patriotism in the Renaissance, Weinstein showed how the Dominican friar recast the commanding, expansionist identity of Florence as the New Jerusalem and the place for the Second Coming of Christ. Weinstein saw that Florentine civic culture made things sacred—the city and the state—that had not been understood as having a religious dimension before. In 1994, The Renaissance Society of America devoted a session to civic religion in Weinstein’s honor.

His skill at interrelating the religious and the secular emerged again in a co-authored book with his former Rutgers colleague Rudolph Bell that used quantitative data to explore the social factors at work (class, gender, geography) in how the Catholic Church canonized its saints from 1000 to 1700. Their research revealed a surprising increase in the declaration of new saints, including many women, during this very same “secular” fifteenth century. Saints and Society moved the study of saints’ lives away from the exclusive terrain of hagiographers and devotees into the mainstream of historical inquiry. Returning to Savonarola almost 20 years after his retirement, Weinstein examined the evolution of the religious thinker become political leader in a 2011 biography Savonarola: The Rise and Fall of a Renaissance Prophet. Savonarola believed, Weinstein says, “he was leading Florence to the New Jerusalem, but he was also traveling a path of increasing fanaticism that could only take him to desperation, delusion, and disaster. Still, it is unhelpful to dismiss Savonarola as a fanatic or a charlatan; this obscures his noble vision and slights his strenuous efforts on behalf of social justice and political liberty.” Thus, Savonarola alienated patricians by introducing a popular government and sacrificing their treasures in a bonfire of “vanities.” In 1498, he was arrested, and under torture confessed to heresy, recanted, and then was hanged and burned. By examining Savonarola’s mysticism, Weinstein showed the increasingly political prophet being finally undone by politics and his own millenarian visions. “The challenge is to integrate—as he himself never ceased trying to do—the irascible puritan at war with his world, the charismatic preacher who, as Machiavelli would have it, adapted ‘his lies’ to the times, the ascetic contemplative enraptured by divine love, and the militant herald of a new age.”

Weinstein almost necessarily concerned himself with the impact of religious faith on political realities as his Orthodox Jewish father Harris (Avram Zvi), immigrated from a shtetl near Minsk to the United States to escape the Tsar’s armies. Weinstein himself, born and raised in Rochester, NY, joined the army to oppose Nazism. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his combat with the 4th Division in the invasion of Germany that followed the Battle of the Bulge. After the war the far-sighted G.I. bill allowed him to attend the University of Chicago, where he took the famous Core designed by Robert Maynard Hutchins—two circumstances whose importance he stressed throughout his life. He earned his B.A. and M.A. at Chicago and his doctorate at Iowa.

A Fulbright grant allowed his initial exposure to the immense manuscript riches of the National Library and Archives and to study at the University of Florence in 1953–55. It was there that he married his first wife, Anne Kingsley, the mother of his two children, Jonathan and Elizabeth. After receiving the Ph.D. in 1957, he was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin in 1957–58, and was a lecturer in history at the University of Iowa in 1958–59. He taught for two years at Roosevelt University, in Chicago, an institution rooted in social justice principles, making that, he said later, some of his most important work as a teacher. He moved to Rutgers for the next eighteen years where he advanced from Assistant Professor to Distinguished Professor. In that period he earned fellowships at the Villa I Tatti in Florence (1962–63) and at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ (1964–65). At Rutgers, he met his wife, Beverly Parker. Thus began a partnership involving Weinstein’s writing and extensive political activism and community service. The couple moved to Tucson when Weinstein took on the headship of the History Department at the University of Arizona. He was Head from 1978–87 and retired in 1992.

As department Head, he brought Heiko A. Oberman, the prominent historian of the Protestant Reformation, to Tucson and thus helped form the Division for Late Medieval and Reformation Studies, which still functions in active cooperation with the Department of History. He taught night school classes at Fort Huachuca where he commuted an hour each way from Tucson twice a week even as he ran the department. In partnership with the Arizona Historical Society, he brought Tucson’s high schools into the national “History Day,” in which students competed by writing research papers on historical subjects. He devised an interdisciplinary outreach series of round tables and lectures to involve the community in university-level discussions of current issues.

After retiring, he continued to teach. He devised a new course on Italian Renaissance great books. He attended oral exams and served on dissertation committees. He continued to publish. Building on a dossier of depositions he found in the archives of Pisa, he wrote a micro-history, The Captain’s Concubine, about the trial growing out of a 1578 street brawl. He edited Heiko Oberman’s The Two Reformations when the author’s death prevented the conclusion of that work. He translated L’Assassino del Duca: Esilio e Morte di Lorenzo de’ Medici by Stefano Dall’Aglio. Beyond all this, he completed his own magisterial biography of Savonarola.

After moving with Beverly to Sonoita, Arizona, in 1996, he joined the Crossroads Community Forum and worked on a Master Plan for development. He volunteered as a dispatcher with the local fire department. He opposed creating an open pit mine in the beautiful Santa Rita Mountains. He defended Southern Arizona’s natural environment by opposing roads through canyons and new power lines.

From the battlefield to the library, from Florence to Arizona, from prophecy to politics, from leadership to service, Don Weinstein lived a full life. He combined academic achievement and civic commitment to a very high degree of excellence and effectiveness.

Edward Muir


New York Times obituary

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Lisa Jardine, April 12, 1944–October 25, 2015

Posted By RSA, Monday, November 2, 2015

Lisa Jardine’s last appearance at an RSA annual meeting was typical of her. On March 28, 2015, immediately after the end of the Business Meeting, she took the stage to read a statement by early career scholars. They objected to the fact that all the plenary speakers in Berlin were male. Lisa relayed their arguments to a large audience with eloquence, passion and humor. Like so many of her other performances, it was unforgettable.

One of the most original and influential Renaissance scholars of the last half-century, Lisa studied at Cambridge and Essex: first mathematics, then literature. As that start suggests, her work always crossed borders—something she was encouraged to do at the Warburg Institute, where she spent three years as a senior research fellow. Her first book, a revised version of her doctoral dissertation, dealt with Francis Bacon’s efforts to reform the arts of argument. It illuminated not only his writings, but also the teaching of dialectic in Cambridge—a subject that became one of her lasting interests.

Over the next forty years, Lisa published a massive series of books and articles, on subjects as varied as the history of education in the Renaissance and the future of progressive politics in the UK, Renaissance literature and the scientific pursuits of the Royal Society, the literary career of Erasmus and the lives and work of Francis Bacon, Robert Hooke and Christopher Wren. Everything she wrote came from new research, and every new book or article revealed new ways of imagining and understanding the past.

Lisa could transform materials that everyone else found dull and forbidding into richly human sources. Her studies of Gabriel Harvey’s marginalia opened up what is now a central field in Renaissance Studies, the history of reading. An expert user of libraries and archives, she created and directed the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, which combines the traditional methods of philology and bibliography with cutting-edge information technology to build new kinds of archive and critical edition. But she was equally at home in very different realms. One of the most popular of her many writings for a large public eloquently evoked the power of wearing red.

With Worldly Goods Lisa made the material turn, well ahead of most other historians of the Renaissance. In her studies of Hooke, Wren and Constantijn Huyghens, one of the heroes of Going Dutch, she followed her protagonists out of the archive into gardens, churches and even up the Monument, which Hooke and Wren tried to use as a zenith observatory. These accomplishments brought her many honors: she was made a CBE, elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and awarded the Francis Bacon Prize by Caltech.

Honors mattered less to Lisa than what she called, echoing Erasmus, her familia: the group of younger scholars that always seemed to surround her. A dedicated mentor, she not only trained extraordinary students, but also often took them on as collaborators. Though her formal teaching career unrolled in the United Kingdom, at Cambridge, Queen Mary University of London, and University College London, she spent a number of happy periods teaching and doing research in the United States, at Cornell, Princeton, Johns Hopkins and Caltech. Both Americans who studied with her at Cambridge and London and those who met her during her American trips benefited immensely from her painstaking criticism of their work and her unstinting moral support. A number of them became her research and writing partners.

Lisa’s public engagements were as many—and as formidable—as her academic posts and honors. She broadcast as a writer and presenter for the BBC 4 program A Point of View, and often wrote for newspapers and for the BBC website. She acted as a judge for a number of literary prizes, including what was then the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Prize for fiction. With characteristic public spirit and generosity, she served for many years as a trustee of the Victoria and Albert Museum and as chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

It is a principle universally acknowledged that one looks in vain in university faculties for public spirit and civil courage. Lisa was a great exception to this melancholy rule. Always deeply engaged in teaching and scholarship, she somehow found time to serve her universities and a vast range of other institutions as well. Often the first woman to hold a particular position, give an endowed lecture or chair a distinguished group, she always did the job brilliantly and effectively—and always, as she did in Berlin, stood up for those without privileges and power.

Anthony Grafton

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Angela Caracciolo Aricò

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 15, 2015

Professor Angela Caracciolo Aricò has died on March 11 2015 in Venice after a lengthy illness. Associate professor of Italian at the Università Ca’ Foscari and prolific scholar of Venetian and Aragonese Renaissance culture, until the very last day “la professoressa” – as her numerous pupils used to call her – continued working on her scholarly pursuits, which included the work of Jacopo Sannazaro, the relationship between Venetian literature and the visual arts and, most importantly, the life and work of Marin Sanudo the Younger.

“What you want to study, you first need to love it” – she once said to her colleague and friend Gian Carlo Alessio. Proofs of this love are – among other things – decades of painstaking research in the archives of Venice, the publication of four influential monographs and dozens of articles, the foundation of the internationally renowned Centro di Studi Medievali e Rinascimentali “Emmanuele Antonio Cicogna”, the organization of conferences in Italy and abroad, and the careful supervision of countless doctoral students.

The single-handed reappraisal of Marin Sanudo, however, is perhaps the finest product of Prof. Caracciolo’s passionate scholarship. By lovingly unearthing Sanudo’s habitation, library, circle of friends, artistic taste and unpublished works, she rediscovered a great man and intellectual, where historians had only seen a documentary source.

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Laurie Schneider Adams, 1941–2015

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 1, 2015

Laurie Schneider Adams, a scholar in Italian Renaissance art and in the application of psychoanalytic theory to art history, died June 19 at the age of 73. Adams (PhD Columbia) joined the faculty of the newly-established John Jay College, City University of New York, in 1966 and taught there and at the CUNY Graduate Center until 2011. She was the author of many books, including A History of Western Art, Art Across Time, The Methodologies of Art, Art and Psychoanalysis, and Italian Renaissance Art. She was the editor-in-chief of the journal Source: Notes in the History of Art from 1984 until earlier this year.

The East Hampton Star published an obituary.


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Walter Liedtke d. 2015

Posted By Administration, Thursday, February 5, 2015

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David Rosand 1938–2014

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 25, 2014
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Elaine G. Rosenthal 1924–2014

Posted By Administration, Friday, January 24, 2014
Elaine Greenspahn Rosenthal died 6 January 2014 in San Mateo, California following a series of strokes.

Elaine's passion for Quattrocento Italy stemmed from her travels with her husband, Homer. Following his death, Elaine completed her undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley under the supervision of Gene Brucker. She continued her sociohistorical research of Renaissance Florence with Nicolai Rubinstein at the University of London, earning her Ph.D in 1988. Her dissertation explored lineage bonds in fifteenth-century Florence. The Giovanni, Parenti, and Petrucci became part of her family as she immersed herself in the Florentine archives, the academic community in Florence, and her life in her flat on the Piazza Santa Croce. Her contribution to Renaissance Studies in Honour of Nicolai Rubinstein, " The Position of Women in Renaissance Florence: Neither Autonomy nor Subjugation," is a frequently cited work. Dr. Rosenthal collaborated on making "The Memoirs by Fogligno, Son of Conte, Grandson of Averardo II of the Medici Family of Florence" accessible to other scholars. Other contributions to her field include the sharing of unknown indices in Florentine archives and exploring the relations between Jews and Christians in early modern Florence. She actively participated in RSA conferences and contributed articles to Renaissance Quarterly as well as publications such as the Journal of Interdisciplinary History.

A gracious, generous, and loving friend and mother; Elaine was predeceased by her husband, Homer, and her son, Douglas. She is survived by her daughter Tris Harms (Herb Harms) and their children Haley and Carl, her daughter-in-law Barbara Rosenthal and children Mara and Alice, and her sister Donna Wasser and her children.

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Paul J. Alpers (1932–2013)

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 22, 2013

[Please see the page on the UC Berkeley website for the full obituary]

Paul Alpers, a UC Berkeley professor of English for 38 years, died 19 May 2013 at his home in Northampton, Mass. He was the husband of Smith College President Carol Christ, who served as Berkeley’s executive vice chancellor and provost from 1994 to 2000.

Alpers, who had been battling cancer, was the founding director of UC Berkeley’s Townsend Center for the Humanities, a former chair of the English Department, a 1972 winner of the Distinguished Teaching Award, and the Class of 1942 Professor of English Emeritus. He retired from the faculty in 2002, the year his wife began her new post at Smith. At Smith, Alpers was a professor in residence in the Department of English Language and Literature.

Alpers’ first book, The Poetry of the Faerie Queene, introduced a new way of reading English poet Edmund Spenser. In his second book, on Virgil’s Eclogues, he initiated his work on the pastoral genre of literature, art and music. His next book, What is Pastoral? was a foundational work that won both the Christian Gauss Award and the Harry Levin Award. He also was a founding editor of the journal Representations, which was first published by UC Press in 1983.

Alpers was born on Oct.16, 1932, and received his B.A. and Ph.D. in English from Harvard University. During his career, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as well as the American Philosophical Society.

He is survived by his wife, Carol Christ; his sons, Benjamin and Nicholas Alpers; his stepchildren Jonathan and Elizabeth Sklute; four grandchildren; two brothers, David and Edward Alpers; and his former wife, Svetlana Alpers.

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Clare M. Murphy, d. 2013

Posted By Administration, Thursday, July 25, 2013

In Memoriam Clare M. Murphy

The Amici Thomae Mori Society, Moreana’s Editorial Board, and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissnace Studies wish to honor the memory of Clare M. Murphy, who passed away on June 22, 2013, the feast of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher. She had been a Thomas More scholar for the past thirty years, and a member of the RSA since 1962. She died in hospice in Phoenix, Arizona at age 80 of ovarian cancer after a brief hospitalization.

Clare was born in Cleveland and earned her B. A. and M. A. in English from Case Western Reserve. She took her PhD in English from the University of Pittsburgh in 1964.

Clare was Professor Emerita of English from the University of Rhode Island, Kingston, where she worked from 1964 until 1990, after teaching at Tufts University (1961-64). Taking early retirement, she then joined the Moreanum Center in Angers, France, working with Abbé Germain Marc’hadour and succeeding him as Editor of the journal Moreana from 1992 until 2002. She continued to live in Angers, publishing and conferencing, until 2010.

With Henri Gibaud and Mario A. di Cesare, she was editor of Miscellanea Moreana: Essays for Germain Marc’hadour, 1989 (also published as Moreana 100: Mélanges Marc’hadour). She also was in the midst of editing a collection of new essays on Margaret More Roper, Thomas More’s daughter, by well-known scholars. This collection is in progress and will be completed in Clare’s honor.

Clare M. Murphy was a specialist of Thomas More and early Tudor humanism, Erasmus, John Fisher, and John Colet. She presented papers in many conferences around the world and wrote a number of articles in such journals as The Catholic Historical Review, Sixteenth Century Journal, Moreana, and Autrement Dire (U. of Nancy, France). She was a long-time member and participant in the triennial conference of the International Association of Neo-Latin Studies and published regularly in its proceedings. An indefatigable champion of excellent scholarship in More studies, she co-organized international conferences on Thomas More in Maynooth, Ireland (1998), Fontevrault, France (2001), Santa Fe, Argentina (2004), and Amherst, Massachusetts (2007). She was planning another international conference on More in Victoria, Canada in the near future. She was also the founder of the International Association for Thomas More Scholarship, an official RSA Associate Organization.

In 2010, she joined the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS) in Tempe as an Adjunct Scholar and continued organizing sessions for the RSA’s Annual Conferences and writing reviews in the Renaissance Quarterly. She was an active member of ACMRS, attending lectures and other functions, and she served as a session chair for panels at its annual conference. ACMRS is pleased to have supported her scholarly endeavors for the past three-plus years. Clare was also a member of the Arizona State University Newman Center community.

A number of scholars owe her their first participation in international conferences, and she will be missed by her friends among the Thomas More scholars.

Memorials may be mailed, in support of the Margaret Roper volume (donors will be listed in the publication), to the Clare Murphy Memorial Fund, Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS), Arizona State University, P. O. Box 874402, Tempe, AZ, 852878-4402 (donation is tax-deductible; check payable to the "ASU Foundation,” which exists to support ASU); or the Amici Thomae Mori Society (see for check, bank transfer, or online payment instructions).

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Philip J. Ford (1949–2013)

Posted By Ingrid De Smet, Tuesday, July 16, 2013

In Memoriam Philip J. Ford (1949-2013)

Prof. Philip J. Ford, FBA died on 8 April 2013, aged just 64. Educated at the University of Cambridge, where he pursued most of his professional career, Philip Ford was an internationally distinguished specialist of sixteenth-century French and Neo-Latin poetry. The Scottish humanist George Buchanan and French poet Pierre de Ronsard constituted particular foci of research; however, Philip Ford also explored the broader correlation between humanism and writing; Renaissance mythography; and the reception of Ancient Latin and Greek literature, particularly Homer.

Philip published five monographs, two critical editions, as well as numerous articles; he was also the editor or co-editor of a staggering fourteen collective volumes, including the ‘Cambridge French Colloquia’ series. His latest book The Judgment of Palaemon. The Contest between Neo-Latin and Vernacular Poetry in Renaissance France (Leiden, 2013) is a particularly apposite witness to his long-standing interest in the interaction between the two competing modes of literary expression in the Renaissance.

Vice-President of the Société Française pour l’étude du Seizième Siècle (2006-2009), and President of the Fédération internationale des Instituts et Société pour l’Étude de la Renaissance (2007-2013), Philip Ford served on the Executive Board of the of the International Association for Neo-Latin Studies for fifteen years (IANLS President, 2006-2009). He tirelessly organised conferences and workshops at Cambridge and elsewhere and coordinated panels at several RSA meetings. Philip Ford is remembered for his dedication, energy and critical poise as a scholar, but also for his fine human qualities, including his love of languages and the genuine interest and encouragement he extended to many a student and early career researcher.

Ingrid De Smet – July 2012

For more and fuller obituaries, see (M. Moriarty); (John O’Brien); obituaries by Ingrid De Smet are in press in Renaissance, Humanisme, Réforme (in French) and the Neulateinisches Jahrbuch (in English).

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