31 May 2006 - Wednesday

Unfortunate associations

I recently started on Quentin Skinner's The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, which is a study of medieval, Renaissance, and Reformation political philosophy. So far, I've been reading Skinner's analysis of 12th-15th century Italian scholarship, observing the efforts of the city republics to explain their resistance to papal, imperial, and plutocratic domination. I've reached and nearly finished the chapter on the Florentine Renaissance; next up is "The Age of Princes."

And you know what? Several times over the last few days as I've sat with the book, I've gotten the urge to watch The Godfather. Isn't that terrible? Apparently I think almost exclusively in terms of an unfortunate stereotype of Italian culture. I cannot read a book with names like "Bruni" and "Salutati" and "Pico della Mirandola" without also thinking of Michael and Vito. It's disgraceful.

In my defense, of course, one could easily argue that the brutal patronage politics of medieval Italy were not much different from the system depicted in the movie. Very little separates the Five Families from medieval dynasties.

In related news, Lee has been posting photos from a recent trip to Italy at verbum ipsum. Rome is here, here, here, here, and here. Florence is here and here.

| Posted by Wilson at 14:38 Central | TrackBack
| Report submitted to the Humanities Desk