Seminar by Peter Howard (Monash University)

‘Charting Cultural Transformation through Renaissance Preaching’, A/Prof Peter Howard (Monash University), Monday September 2, 6pm, Italian Institute of Culture, 233 Domain Rd, South Yarra

How did the artists of the Sistine Chapel wall frescoes develop and execute a complex programme in an amazingly short period of time? How do we explain the configuration of public space in early Renaissance Italy? Who authorized the magnificent display that characterizes Renaissance Florence? These are just some of the questions on which light is shed if an expansive role is assigned to preaching in late medieval and early renaissance Italy. This argument is a reversal of the image of the mendicant “penitential preachers” that Burckhardt constructed a century and a half ago but that still prevails, even among some scholars. Most commonly, the historiography identifies the humanists as the innovators of the day and as the disseminators of a renewed classical culture. This can be overemphasized. I argue that evidence suggests that a traditional medium such as the sermon was just as, if not more, responsible for a new historical and social vocabulary which equipped Florentines in particular to meet the demands of a rapidly changing society.

This event is presented by RISM.