Book Edited by Professor Roberta Ricci Examines Legacy of Poggio Bracciolini

April 3, 2020

In 2016 Associate Professor of Italian Roberta Vera Ricci organized a major symposium to explore the extraordinary impact of Poggio Bracciolini's work. The proceedings of the symposium have recently been published in a volume titled Poggio Bracciolini and the Re(Dis)covery of Antiquity: Textural and Material Traditions.

Stephan Greenblatt, author of The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction in 2012 and National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2011, writes in the blurb for the book:

“This distinguished collection of essays adds a wealth of scholarly detail to our understanding of the myriad-minded Renaissance humanist Poggio Bracciolini. And, in doing so, it also manages to capture much of the range and flavor of this extraordinary figure: his learning, his passionate interest in antiquity, his civic pride, and his brilliance in calligraphic design, as well as his ceaseless self-promotion, his enmities, his taste for obscenity, and his penchant for moralizing. Poggio’s startling energy and the energy of the whole period course through these pages”

The core of the volume "lays out a range of exchanges between hugely influential figures in 15th-century Florence, while at the same time focusing on Bracciolini’s vibrant contribution to many fields of knowledge in the Western intellectual tradition, spanning across politics and historiography, material and print culture, translation and language acquisition, philology and manuscript studies, calligraphy and paleography," writes Ricci in the introduction. 

Ricci edited the volume and contributed the chapter "Shifting Times, Convergent Futures: Technologies of Writing Beyond Poggio Bracciolini," where she explores the textual consciousness that marked the passage to scrupulous criteria of editing and writing, which ultimately indicates and emphasizes the historical dimension of hermeneutical tradition.

"With a powerful impact on readership and authorship, Bracciolini stands behind this groundbreaking entanglement, as we rethink textual transmission and modern scholarship in this digital age," says Ricci.

The symposium and book are both dedicated to the memory of Renaissance scholar Phyllis Walter Goodhart Gordan '35, who died in 1994. She was the daughter of Marjorie Walter Goodhart (Class of 1912 and namesake of Goodhart Hall).

Gordan’s interest in Poggio and Renaissance Humanism began during her undergraduate years at Bryn Mawr and it was in the pursuit of research materials for her advanced undergraduate papers that she and her father, Howard Lehman Goodhart (1884-1951), embarked on acquiring what was to become one of the great medieval and renaissance libraries in the country.

By the time of Howard Goodhart’s death, the collection numbered roughly 1,400 books printed prior to the 16th century. Of these, he donated or bequeathed more than 900 to Bryn Mawr. His daughter kept about 400 to support her work and added more to the total over the course of her lifetime, including a number of printed Poggio’s. Much of this collection is now at Bryn Mawr, coming either as part of his bequest in 1951, or as part of her bequest or deposit by her family in 1994. 

"The collection is one of the great renaissance book collections in the U.S.," says Director of Special Collections Eric Pumroy, who, along with Professor of History of Art David Cast, contributed to both the symposium and the book.

Italian and Italian Studies Department

History of Art

Special Collections