Renaissance Keywords

Edited by Ita Mac Carthy

Legenda (General Series)


23 February 2013  •  158pp

ISBN: 978-1-907975-29-5 (hardback)  •  RRP £75, $99, €85


Certain words played a crucial role in the making of the European Renaissance, and still recur today in our shifting understanding of it. Discretion and grace, to take two examples studied here, express how individuals thought about themselves, each other and their experience of the world, yet they are as hard to define as they are ever-present in Renaissance discourse. In this collection of essays, scholars from across the Humanities offer new interpretations of these and other 'keywords', to adopt Raymond Williams's term, and investigate the vocabulary that not only accompanied, but also produced, the cultural transformations that made the Renaissance so distinctive.

A keywords approach to Renaissance Europe provides a rich contextual framework for the exploration of its central ideas. It also highlights the need for fresh thinking on current histories of the age. Renaissance Keywords engages with the ongoing debate about the term 'Renaissance' itself, perhaps more our keyword than theirs, and seeks alternative ways to understand a culture and society which produced conceptions of the self as much as it did art and science. The result is an exploration at the cutting edge of contemporary research.

Ita Mac Carthy is Lecturer in Italian Studies at the University of Birmingham.


  • ‘A thoughtful, well-written and engaging volume whose accessible presentation of wide-ranging but precise detail should appeal to the Renaissance specialist and the general reader alike.’ — unsigned notice, Forum for Modern Language Studies 50.2, April 2014, 231
  • ‘These chapters share an approach, drawing insights from close attention to both dictionary definitions and uses of terms in different contexts, and thereby provide excellent examples of ‘word histories’.’ — Hugh Roberts, French Studies 68.2, April 2014, 241-42
  • ‘By bringing together intellectual history and philology in ways that are both rigorous and ambitious, the essays in Renaissance Keywords constitute a great contribution to the field of Renaissance and early modern studies. The book, however, transcends the limits of its field and offers anyone interested in the history of ideas important insights of the ways in which lan- guage in its ever-evolving nature determines ideas and worldviews.’ — Pablo Maurette, Modern Philology 112.3, February 2015, E231-33


The New Philologists
Richard Scholar
Guido Giglioni
Ben Thomas
Ann Moss
Ita Mac Carthy
Emily Butterworth, Rowan Tomlinson
Timothy Chesters
Patricia Seed

Bibliography entry:

Carthy, Ita Mac (ed.), Renaissance Keywords (Cambridge: Legenda, 2013)

First footnote reference: 35 Renaissance Keywords, ed. by Ita Mac Carthy (Cambridge: Legenda, 2013), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Carthy, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Carthy, Ita Mac (ed.). 2013. Renaissance Keywords (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Carthy 2013: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Carthy 2013: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

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