The name Medici is almost inextricably interlinked with the city of Florence and the idea of the Renaissance in both popular and scholarly imagination. The family dominated the Florentine republic politically for the better part of the 15th century and became, first, dukes of Florence and, then, grand dukes of Tuscany in the 16th.
Visitors to a new city, faced with a host of new sensations and sights, may find themselves wondering ‘How did this all get here?’ Pondering the origins of an established, yet amorphous entity like a city may overwhelm the average tourist, though it is an exercise familiar to historians.
Comparative histories, especially between the Low Countries and Italy, have become common in recent years.
Towards the end of this fascinating study, Heather Shore reflects on the difficulty of ‘trying to uncover or reconstruct something that does not exist in a concrete form’ (p. 192). For Shore, the ‘underworld’ is a ‘cipher’, through which the press, the police, the government, and the wider society represents, and tries to understand, crime as a social problem.
Extraordinarily, Nick Daly’s The Demographic Imagination and the Nineteenth Century is the 97th book published in CUP’s ‘Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth Century Literature and Culture’ series, under the general editorship of Gillian Beer.
By Accident or Design: Writing the Victorian Metropolis is an absorbing and complex piece of work. In it, Paul Fyfe argues that accidents not only shaped Victorian cities, but also played a role in shaping written forms and literary genres, from newspaper layouts to the 19th-century novel.
A stigma around the ill-defined genre of popular history lingers in the academy.
Ephemeral City. Cheap Print and Urban Culture in Renaissance Venice is surely one of the most significant and impressive works on early modern European print culture to have been published in recent years. Its author, Rosa Salzberg, is an Assistant Professor of Italian Renaissance History at the University of Warwick.
A smile seems the most natural of emotional expressions. We smile easily and often unthinkingly; babies smile; it is, as Colin Jones notes in his introduction to this book, ‘the most banal and unremarkable of social gestures’. Or is it?
This formidable and scholarly volume, a major contribution to urban, social and cultural history, is first and foremost a tribute to one of its co-authors, Charles McKean, the distinguished architectural historian, who sadly died when the book was being written.