December 20, 2006
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v2.1 Reference
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November 4, 2010
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Machiavelli in Love

Sex, Self, and Society in the Italian Renaissance

Machiavelli in Love introduces a complex concept of sex and sexual identity and their roles in the culture and politics of the Italian Renaissance. Guido Ruggiero's study counters the consensus among historians and literary critics that there was little sense of individual identity and almost no sense of sexual identity before the modern period.

Drawing from the works of major literary figures such as Boccaccio, Aretino, and Castiglione, and rereading them against archival evidence, Ruggiero examines the concept of identity via consensus realities of family, neighbors, friends, and social peers, as well as broader communities and solidarities. The author contends that Renaissance Italians understood sexual identity as a part of the human life cycle, something that changed throughout stages of youthful experimentation, marriage, adult companionship, and old age.

Machiavelli's letters and literary production reveal a fascinating construction of self that is highly reliant on sexual reputation. Ruggiero's challenging reinterpretation of this canonical figure, as well as his unique treatment of other major works of the period, offer new approaches for reading Renaissance literature and new understandings of the way life was lived and perceived during this time.

About the Author

Guido Ruggiero is professor and chair of the Department of History at the University of Miami. He is coeditor and cotranslator of Five Comedies from the Italian Renaissance, also published by Johns Hopkins, and author of several books, including Sex and Gender in Historical Perspective; Binding Passions: Tales of Magic, Marriage, and Power at the End of the Renaissance; and The Boundaries of Eros: Sex, Crime, and Sexuality in Renaissance Venice.


"This provocative and complicated work about sex and self-fashioning sits at the nexus of historical and literary studies . . . It challenges readers to rethink both traditional literary interpretations and historical understanding."—Choice

"Ruggiero's intent in Machiavelli in Love is much more than a recasting of Machiavelli: it is to examine self and identity in the Renaissance . . . One can applaud his insertion of the playful into our sense of the Renaissance."—Thomas Kuehn, Renaissance Quarterly

"Add to your reading list Johns Hopkins' study of sex, self, and society."—Bibliotheque d'Humanisme et Renaissance

"Innovative in its technique, subtle and revealing in its arguments, and whenever it turns to the theme of sodomy, throws off brilliant light."—Randolph Trumbach, American Historical Review

"Readers of Machiavelli in Love will certainly come away with a feeling for the playfulness of Renaissance sexuality. One of the book's achievements is that it shows the extent to which the literature of high culture had deep roots in everyday experience. Few will ever again doubt the importance of sex in creating Renaissance identity."—William J. Connell, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"Ruggiero provides challenging accounts of public ethics and private morality by analysing a selection of literary and archival material. Armed with humour and determination, he deciphers the subtle codes of Renaissance narratives, and comments on the various ways in which identity and sexuality were constructed, understood and politicised."—Stamatoula Panagakou, Political Studies Review

"This is a veteran historian's book of literary speculation . . . It is also, I suspect, a teacher's book. It favors texts that enliven an English-speaking classroom on Italian history both because they support good lessons and because they bring students into engagement with the Italian past. How better to stir up Anglo-Saxon students, after all, than with tales, tragic or comical, that touch on passion, tenderness, deception, loss, or ribaldry!"—Thomas Cohen, H-Italy, H-Net Reviews

"Written in the accessible narrative style that Ruggiero's readers will recognize, the study is a lively investigation that raises a central question about how the construction of self was dependent on sexual reputation."—Gerry Milligan, Annali d' Italianistica

"A book that no one will be able to ignore in historical, gender, and Italian literary studies. Here Ruggiero breaks new ground, especially with his keen eye for connecting fiction with social experience."—Edward Muir, Northwestern University, author of Civic Ritual in Renaissance Venice and Mad Blood Stirring: Vendetta and Factions in Friuli during the Renaissance

"Ultimately makes a remarkable case for the integration of individual and societal identity within an understanding of the Italian Renaissance."—Jason Hardgrave, European History Quarterly

"Having to think creatively and act daringly under changing circumstances, this diaspora presents scholars with a fascinating and complex challenge of probing a spectrum of hybrid, fluid, and shifting identities."—Louis Haas, Sixteenth Century Journal

"Suggestive new readings of an unusual range of texts."—Gary Cestaro, Journal of the History of Sexuality

The Johns Hopkins University Press

9780801885167 : machiavelli-in-love-ruggiero
300 Pages
$48.00 USD
9780801898358 : machiavelli-in-love-ruggiero
Paperback / softback
300 Pages
$30.00 USD

Other Titles by Guido Ruggiero

Five Comedies from the Italian Renaissance

translated and edited by Laura Giannetti and Guido Ruggiero
Jul 2003 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$72.00 USD - Hardback
$30.00 USD - Paperback / softback

Microhistory and the Lost Peoples of Europe

edited by Edward Muir and Guido Ruggiero
Jul 1991 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$30.00 USD - Paperback / softback

Other Titles in HISTORY / Europe / Italy

The Bishop's Burden

Celeste McNamara
Nov 2020 - The Catholic University of America Press
$75.00 USD - Hardback

Nefarious Crimes, Contested Justice

Joanne M. Ferraro
Mar 2020 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$52.00 USD - Hardback
$52.00 USD - Electronic book text

Theaters of Anatomy

Cynthia Klestinec
Mar 2020 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$58.00 USD - Hardback
$58.00 USD - Electronic book text

Other Titles in European history

Underground Streams

edited by János M. Rainer
Dec 2021 - Central European University Press
$75.00 USD - Hardback

Women in Wartime

Paula R. Backscheider
Dec 2021 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$99.95 USD - Hardback
$34.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$34.95 USD - Electronic book text

Eastward of Good Hope

Dane A. Morrison
Nov 2021 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$54.95 USD - Hardback
$54.95 USD - Electronic book text