Skip to main content Skip to navigation

The Renaissance Legacy

| Discussion topics | Documents | Reading |

 Discussion topics and Essay questions

a) The Renaissance Legacy

  • Was the Renaissance a period or a movement?
  • 'More pagan than Christian'. Is this a fair judgement of the Renaissance?
  • What were the aims of humanist education and how did it spread across Europe?

b) Art and Society

  • What functions did the visual arts serve in early modern Europe?
  • In what ways can a focus on visual culture and the arts enhance our understanding of early modern change?
  • Was art accessible to all early modern Europeans?
  • How important was the role of the arts in creating and propagating the image of a ruler?


**NOTE: Some eresources are accessible only on-campus or via off-campus proxies or the athens service**





Secondary literature

Audio links

BBC Radio 4 Programme 'In Our Time' on 'Paganism in the Renaissance'.

Selected Key Texts

  • R. Black, Renaissance Thought: A Reader (2001).
  • Alison Brown, The Renaissance (1999)
  • W. Chadwick, Women, Art and Society (2002)
  • H. Butters, 'The Renaissance' in B. Kumin (ed.), The European World (2009)
  • E. Gombrich, 'The Renaissance - Period or Movement', in R. Black, Renaissance thought : a reader (2001), 23-46 (scanned extract)
  • ", In Search of Cultural History (1969) [also in E.H. Gombrich, Ideals and Idols: Essays on Values in History and in Art (1979)]
  • A. McGrath, Reformation Thought: An Introduction (1999), (ebook) ch. 3 'Humanism and the Reformation'
  • L. Molà, 'Arts and Society' in B. Kumin (ed.), The European World (2009)
  • L. Shiner, The Invention of Art: A Cultural History (2001), scan availble of ch. 5 'Polite Arts for Polite Classes'
  • E. Welch, Art in Renaissance Italy, 1350-1500 (1997)

Further reading

a) The Renaissance Legacy
  • R. Black, ‘Education and the Emergence of a Literate Society’, in J. Najemy (ed.), Italy in the Age of the Renaissance (2004) (ebook)
  • J. Chipps Smith, The Northern Renaissance (2004)
  • R.A. Goldthwaite, Wealth and the Demand for Art in Italy, 1300-1600 (1993)
  • J.J. Martin (ed.), The Renaissance: Italy and Abroad (2003)
  • S. Nash, Northern Renaissance Art (2008)
  • C.G. Nauert Jr., Humanism and the Culture of Renaissance Europe (2006)
  • Guido Ruggiero, The Renaissance in Italy: A Social and Cultural History of the Rinascimento (Cambridge, 2014) (ebook)
  • Jean Seznec, The Survival of the Pagan Gods: The Mythological Tradition and its Place in Renaissance Humanism and Art, trans. Barbara F. Sessions (New York, 1953; rept. New York, 1961)
  • R. Starn, ‘A Postmodern Renaissance?’, Renaissance Quarterly 60 (2007), 1-24
  • E. Welch, Shopping in the Renaissance: Consumer Cultures in Italy, 1400-1600 (2005)
  • J. Woolfson (ed.), Palgrave Advances in Renaissance Historiography (2004)
b) Renaissance and Humanist Thought
c) Art and Society
  • S. Alpers, The Art of Describing. Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century (1983)
  • E. Barker et al (eds), The Changing Status of the Artist (1999)
  • A. Blunt, Artistic Theory in Italy, 1450-1600 (1956)
  • J. Brown and J.H. Elliott, A Palace for a King. The Buen Retiro and the Court of Philip IV (1980)
  • J. Brown, Kings and Connoisseurs. Collecting Art in Seventeenth-Century Europe (1995)
  • P. Burke, The Fabrication of Louis XIV (1992)
  • C. Clunas (ed.), Chinese Export Art and Design (1987)
  • A. Cole, Virtue and Magnificence: Art of the Italian Renaissance Courts (1995)
  • B. Cole, The Renaissance Artist at Work: From Pisano to Titian (1983)
  • C. Goldstein, Teaching Art: Academies and Schools from Vasari to Albers (1996)
  • R. Goldthwaite, Wealth and the Demand for Art in Italy 1300-1600 (1993)
  • E. Holt (ed.), A Documentary History of Art. Vol. 1: The Middle Ages and the Renaissance
  • ", (ed.), A Documentary History of Art. Vol. 2: Michelangelo and the Mannerists. The Baroque and the Eighteenth Century (1982)
  • E. A. Honig, Painting and the Market in Early Modern Antwerp (1999)
  • O. Impey and A. MacGregor (eds), The Origins of Museums: The Cabinet of Curiosities in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Europe (2001)
  • A. Keller, ‘Renaissance Theaters of Machines’, Technology and Culture 9 (1978), 495-508 (review article)
  • J.L. Koerner, The Reformation of the Image (2003) (ebook)
  • M. North, Art and Commerce in the Dutch Golden Age (1997)
  • W. Stechow (ed.), Northern Renaissance Art, 1400-1600: Sources and Documents (1966)
  • H. Trevor-Roper, The Plunder of the Arts in the Seventeenth Century (1980)
  • Princes and Artists: Patronage and Ideology at Four Habsburg Courts, 1517-1633 (1991)
  • E. Welch, Art in Renaissance Italy (1997)
  • E. Welch, Shopping in the Renaissance. Consumer Cultures in Italy 1400–1600 (2005)

Module Forum

Module Homepage


External Links

Mark Hadden's Artchive - comprehensive collection of Italian and Northern Renaissance paintings with commentary

Renaissance Humanism and Christian Hebraism - discussion about the changes the Renaissance brought to understanding language

Renaissance electionic texts - digitised texts of English Renaissance manuscripts and books

Renaissance Dance - information about European dance from the 15th to early 17th centuries

Renaissance Exploration and Trade - short interactive discussion about trade and exploration during Renaissance

Renaissance Love Songs - discussion about love and music in the Renaissance

Renaissance Secrets - BBC open source page with short articles on different aspects of the European Renaissance