Columbia University Seminar in the Renaissance -- Fall 2015

Veronica Stachurski, H-Net Staff's picture
October 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015
New York, United States
Subject Fields: 
Architecture and Architectural History, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Early Modern History and Period Studies, European History / Studies, Intellectual History



We are pleased to announce the fall lineup of talks for the 70th year of the Columbia University Seminar in the Renaissance, originally founded by Paul Oskar Kristeller in 1945. All talks meet at 5:30 on the second Tuesday of every month during the academic year (except January) at Columbia's Faculty House. To reserve a place for dinner, which follows at 7 pm in Faculty House (buffet at a fixed price of $25, payment at dinner by check only), please write no less than ten days in advance to the rapporteur, John Kuhn, at

Cynthia Pyle ( and Alan Stewart (, Co-Chairs; Kathy Eden (, Acting Co-Chair



September 8:  Kathy Eden (Columbia), "Forensic Rhetoric and Humanist Education"

In The Schoolmaster (1570), Roger Ascham observes that “we remember nothing so well when we be old as those things which we learned when we were young.” Taking Ascham’s observation as its point of departure, this talk will examine how the principles and practices of the legal rhetoric of ancient Rome informed the background, building blocks, and basic exercises of the reformed humanist curriculum of the sixteenth century, thereby deeply impacting the literary production of the period.

October 13: Patricia Waddy (Syracuse), "The Del Bufalo at Capo le Case"

Angelo (“il cavaliere”) del Bufalo, knighted by Paul II in 1464, acquired a house with garden adjacent to the Acqua Vergine in the neighborhood of Rome called “capo le case.” This “Casa del Giardino” came to serve variously, over the course of 250 years, as suburban retreat, famous garden of antiquities, family residence, dynastic seat, desirable rental property, and site of bitter contention in a 63-year-long law suit. The interests and aspirations of individual members of the Del Bufalo family, complicated by issues of inheritance and paralleled by changes in the neighborhood, provoked the architectural changes that supported those varied uses.

November 10:  Rocco Rubini (Chicago), "'Shame' and 'Posteritism' in Renaissance Studies: From Kristeller to Petrarch"

This talk begins by reviewing the alternative, all-Italian as opposed to Burckhardtian, history of Renaissance scholarship, a story I put forth in The Other Renaissance: Italian Humanism between Hegel and Heidegger (Chicago: 2014). I show that Italian intellectuals, starting in the Risorgimento, felt strongly that Italy’s political and spiritual unification and its “true” (nineteenth-century) rebirth into modernity depended on a rejection of their Renaissance forefathers. This “Renaissance shame,” promulgated by the idea that Renaissance humanists were concerned too much with the past (culture) and little with the present (politics), endured into the twentieth century, where it informed, albeit differently, the postwar interpretive paradigms of Hans Baron, Eugenio Garin, and Paul Oskar Kristeller; Kristeller’s approach in particular can be better understood with reference to this Italian context. I argue that, today, the stifling “antiquarianism” attributed to Renaissance humanism and to some of its interpreters, including Kristeller, can be countered by means of a return to Petrarch, the “father” of a humanism that is finally being understood “hermeneutically,” as primarily concerned, that is, with the shaping of an address to posterity rather than with the inane effort of restituting the ancients.

December 8:  70th Anniversary: History of The Seminar in the Renaissance (1945-2015)

                        Cynthia Pyle, Moderator

                        Peter Rudnytsky

                        Maristella Lorch


[Posted on behalf of the Seminar by Karen Reeds. Please direct all questions and reservations to the rapporteur, John Kuhn, at or 


Phone: 212.854.2389 

2nd Floor, Faculty House
64 Morningside Drive, MC 2302
New York, NY 10027

Contact Email: