2012 Prize for Best Essay by a Junior Scholar

Villa I Tatti is very pleased to announce that the 2012 Prize has been awarded to:

I Tatti Prize for the Best Essay


Ada Palmer, "Reading Lucretius in the Renaissance,"
Journal of the History of Ideas 73,3
(2012): 395-416.  

Two articles deserve an Honorable Mention:

Genevieve Carlton, “Making an Impression: The Display of Maps in Sixteenth-Century Venetian Homes,” Imago Mundi 64, 1 (2012): 28-40.

Lia Markey, “Stradano’s Allegorical Invention of the Americas in Late Sixteenth-Century Florence,” Renaissance Quarterly 65, 2 (2012): 385-442.

This annual prize is awarded to a junior scholar for the best scholarly article on an Italian Renaissance topic, published in English or Italian. The subject can be any aspect of the Italian Renaissance, broadly defined as the period ranging from the 13th to the 17th centuries, and including historiography. The selection committee looks for rigorous and original research, and convincing results expressed in clear and effective prose. The winning article is posted on the I Tatti website, and the author receives $1,000. We welcome submissions from scholars who received a PhD or equivalent between 1 January 2008 and 31December 2013, and who had an article printed in a scholary journal in 2013. The application form is now available on the I Tatti website; the deadline is 1 June.

Congratulations to all three authors!
For full text of articles, click on titles above. For biographies and abstracts, see below.

Ada Palmer, “Reading Lucretius in the Renaissance,” Journal of the History of Ideas 73,3 (2012): 395-416.

  • Biography: Ada Palmer is an assistant professor in the History Department at Texas A&M University.  She is a cultural and intellectual historian, focusing on the long-durée development of ideas and the recovery of classical thought in the Italian Renaissance, with a particular interest in radical thought, science, religion, and atheism.  Her forthcoming book, Reading Lucretius in the Renaissance (Fall 2014), is based on her PhD dissertation (Harvard University, 2009), written under the supervision of James Hankins. Her latest project uses Renaissance biographies of classical philosophers to expose how humanists imagined the lives and roles of the ancient sages whom they themselves sought to imitate.
  • Abstract: Classical Epicureanism is the oldest surviving philosophical system whose model of Nature functions through purely mechanical means, without divine participation.  It also denies Providence, the immortality of the soul, and the efficacy of prayer.  In the Renaissance, this secularizing challenge to reigning Christian and Aristotelian scientific and theological models carried a powerful stigma.  Renaissance documents often use “Epicurean” as a term of abuse, interchangeable with heretic, atheist, even sodomite.  When Lucretius’ Epicurean poem De Rerum Natura reappeared in 1417, bringing Epicureanism vividly before the eyes of scholars and Church, this stigma threatened humanist claims that study of the classics supported Christian virtue.  This survey of marginalia in surviving manuscripts and pre-17th Century printed editions of Lucretius' poem reveals a characteristic humanist reading agenda, focused on poetry, philology and moral philosophy, which limited the capacity of atomism, and other unorthodox scientific theories, to penetrate most intellectual circles before 1550; several important exceptions are identified and discussed, including manuscripts belonging to Pomponio Leto and Machiavelli.  The study demonstrates how humanist enthusiasm for good Latin ensured the distribution of the poem despite the stigma which followed it, enabling the survival and circulation of the radical materialism it contained.

Genevieve Carlton, “Making an Impression: The Display of Maps in Sixteenth-Century Venetian Homes,” Imago Mundi 64, 1 (2012): 28-40

  • Biography: Genevieve Carlton is an assistant professor of History at the University of Louisville; she received her Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 2011. Her research on the history of cartography places maps in the context of print and material culture, Renaissance studies, and the history of science. She is currently working on a book manuscript titled Worldly Consumers: The Demand for Maps in Renaissance Italy, which analyzes the consumption of early printed maps and the ways private consumers attached meaning to their maps in sixteenth-century Italy. 
  • Abstract: Sixteenth-century Venetians decorated the walls of their homes with maps as well as pictures of all kinds. A large corpus of inventories of household goods records the location of these wall decorations and, together with books offering advice on the display of maps, provides evidence that maps were intentionally placed in the most public spaces in the house. The manuals also confirm the impression gained from the inventories that the maps were valued for their ability to construct a public identity for the owner. They were versatile objects that could demonstrate that the owner was a cultured, cosmopolitan man educated about the world, reinforce his professional or trade standing, or enhance a military persona, all to the glorification of the family name.

Lia Markey, “Stradano’s Allegorical Invention of the Americas in Late Sixteenth-Century Florence,” Renaissance Quarterly 65, 2 (2012): 385-442

  • Biography: Lia Markey is a lecturer and postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University; she received her PhD from the University of Chicago in 2008.  She recently completed a book manuscript entitled Imagining the Americas in Medici Florence and has published in Renaissance Quarterly, the Journal of the History of Collections and in several edited volumes and exhibition catalogues.  Among her current research projects are a study of Giovanni Stradano’s Nova Reperta print series and an examination of global Mannerism through the art and lives of three Italian artists working in late sixteenth-century Peru.
  • Abstract: This essay situates Giovanni Stradano’s engravings of the discovery of the Americas from the Americae Retectio and Nova Reperta series within the context of their design in late sixteenth- century Florence, where the artist worked at the Medici court and collaborated with the dedicatee of the prints, Luigi Alamanni. Through an analysis of the images in relation to contemporary texts about the navigators who traveled to the Americas, as well as classical sources, emblems, and works of art in diverse media — tapestry, print, ephemera, and fresco — the study argues that Stradano’s allegorical representations of the Americas were produced in order to make clear Florence’s role in the invention of the New World.