I am interested in all aspects of European thought and learning from around 1250 to around 1750. I have particular expertise in the following:
- The classical tradition (Aristotelianism and ancient thought more generally) in Renaissance Europe: interactions of Greek, Latin, and the vernacular
- Renaissance philosophy and intellectual history, especially ethics, politics, and natural philosophy and the cultural polemics of humanism and scholasticism
- Institutions of culture and learning (particularly universities), with special focus on Bologna and Italy more generally
- Libraries and history of the book (particularly the library of Ulisse Aldrovandi)
My research has focused on Renaissance classical scholarship and intellectual history, both in and outside of Italy. Specifically I have explored the reception of Aristotle’s works and the contexts in which these were taught, especially in the case of natural and moral philosophy. In my 2002 book Aristotle’s ‘Ethics’ in the Italian Renaissance (ca. 1300–1650): The Universities and the Problem of Moral Education I examined the interplay of ideals and practices of moral education— especially in Padua, Bologna, Florence–Pisa, and Rome—through a study of Latin commentaries on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, the standard university textbook for moral philosophy. I have also published on university structures and the development of Aristotelianism in France, Germany, Spain, the Low Countries, and Switzerland.
My current research focuses on two strands. The first is Renaissance Bologna, particularly the ties between the University of Bologna and other Bolognese contexts of learning (including libraries, civic institutions, schools of the religious orders, etc.). My forthcoming monograph The Dynamics of Learning in Early Modern Italy: Arts and Medicine at the University of Bologna (Harvard University Press, early 2023) offers the first analysis in any language of the curricular and intellectual developments in the University of Bologna between c. 1400 and c. 1750. A second strong area of interest is the rise of vernacular philosophy in the Renaissance. This project promises to broaden the areas of Renaissance philosophy usually taken into consideration, and which traditionally have been almost exclusively identified with writings in Latin. (See the AHRC-funded research project, now completed, on 'Vernacular Aristotelianism in Renaissance Italy, c. 1400-c. 1650' Link opens in a new windowand the new, ERC-funded project on 'Aristotle in the Italian Vernacular'Link opens in a new window). In both cases, I have found it essential to work on the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries, humanism and scholasticism, Latin and the vernacular.
Questions implicit in these areas of research include: the transmission and transformation of Greek culture in Renaissance Italy; the interaction between pagan and Christian ideas of virtue; late-medieval and Renaissance interpretations of canonical texts through translations, commentaries, and other genres; Renaissance developments in philosophy and science; and the reorientation of higher education between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. In any of these areas, I would be delighted to supervise undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations.