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Faculty Fellow

Ada Palmer

Associate Professor, Early Modern European History and the College University of Chicago


Ada Palmer’s research on intellectual history, or the history of ideas, explores how history and thought shape each other over time. The Italian Renaissance is a perfect moment for approaching this question because at that point the ideas about science, religion, and the world that had developed in the Middle Ages suddenly met those of the ancient world, reconstructed from rediscovered sources. All at once many beliefs, scientific systems, and perceived worlds clashed, mixed, and produced an unprecedented range of new ideas, which in turn shaped the following centuries and, thereby, our current world.

Palmer’s recent work on the Renaissance has focused on classical transformations, i.e., how, thanks to humanist enthusiasm for reconstructing the golden age of ancient Greece and Rome, material received from the classical and medieval worlds was transformed in Renaissance hands and in turn transformed the Renaissance world. She is working on a long-term project on the imagined antiquity believed in by Renaissance humanists, and how their efforts to reconstruct the ancient world aimed, not at the ancient world as we now understand it, but at a very different ancient world whose character can be reconstructed from Renaissance paratexts, imitations, paintings, and period translations.

For more details on her research and publications, please visit her profile page at the University of Chicago.



Censorship, Information Control, and Information Revolutions from Printing Press to Internet

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2018 – 2021