Assistant Professor of Italian
Ph.D. Italian Studies, University of California, Berkeley
M.A. Italian Studies, University of California, Berkeley
B.A. English Honors and Italian, University of British Columbia
My research interests lie in the Italian Renaissance and the humanist revolutions that have distinguished it as a historical experience. I am interested in canonical authors associated with Latin and Greek humanism (Valla, Guarino, Politian, Alciato); with antiquarianism (Alberti, Biondo, Jacopo Strada); and with vernacular humanism and literature (Boccaccio, Boiardo, Ariosto, Sannazaro, Bembo, Tasso, Montaigne, etc.). I am also interested in less-canonical figures such as the poligrafi who worked in the early modern book trade, visual-verbal hybrid genres (coats of arms, imprese, emblems, picture dictionaries), legal humanisms, artists’ writings, and writing about the arts. In terms of cultural and political geography, Florence, Rome, Venice, as well as the off-center capitals of the humanist movements on the peninsula are relevant to me. The setting of much of my dissertation research and first book project is Este Ferrara-Modena, a dynastic state of the peninsula which brought together in unique ways medieval-feudal cultures, humanist experiments, and the international aristocracy distinctive of the ancien régime.
My research questions tend towards cultural and intellectual history, even as my methods come from literary studies, visual studies, and/or the material history of texts (history of the book, philology): How were humanist productions and methods shaped by their social and political contexts? How were visual and verbal, Latin and vernacular, scholarly and imaginative, expressions of the period interconnected? Finally, how have evolving histories of Renaissance figures and their achievements been shaped by our own evolving contexts and concerns?
I have related research interests in humanism(s) as sets of living practices and dispositions that move to different parts of the globe, interact with divergent traditions, and evolve to suit different needs. In this vein, I am especially interested in the long history of the novel and in what has emerged recently as “the history of the humanities” – studying the continuities and discontinuities between Renaissance and Early Modern humanisms and various branches of the modern and contemporary humanities (philology, anthropology, history of art, ecocriticism, post-humanism, post-colonial studies etc.).
Before coming to UNC, I was Assistant Professor of Italian at Franklin and Marshall College for two years. Besides my studies in English literature in Canada and in Italian Studies at UC Berkeley, I have enjoyed formative experiences also in Pisa at the Scuola Normale Superiore, in Florence at the Max Plank Institute for Art History, and in Italian and European libraries and museums where I have regularly sought to study and learn.
Current research projects:
- A book project about the fate of the coat of arms/corporate logo amidst the technical, social, cultural revolutions of the Renaissance, with a focus on the Este States and their intertwined traditions of humanist scholarship, court historiography, dynastic pageantry, and romance literature
- A project about the sources and reception-history of animal (equine) characters and “animal questions” in medieval/Renaissance romance epic
- “Lorenzo Valla’s Critique of Jurisprudence, the Discovery of Heraldry, and the Philology of Images.” Renaissance Quarterly 72.4 (2019): 1183-1224.
- “Che l’antico valore nelli italici cor non e’ ancor morto: Carla Benedetti’s Challenge.” California Italian Studies, 2.1 (2011).
Awards & Honors
- 2019 Wolf Humanities Center Regional Faculty Fellowship, University of Pennsylvania – Kinship Seminar
- 2019 Franklin Research Grant, American Philosophical Society
- 2015 Doctoral Fellowship, Max Planck Kunsthistorisches Institut Florence – The Nomos of Images: Manifestation and Iconology of Law Research Group
- 2011-14 Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship – Doctoral, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Academia.edu page: https://unc.academia.edu/JenniferMackenzie