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Costanza Gislon Dopfel
Saint Mary's College of California (Moraga, CA 94575-2715)
Fertile Florence: How a Demographic Disaster shaped the Italian Renaissance

Research for a book on the connection between the Black Death and the origins of the Italian Renaissance.

Fifteenth-century Florence faced an unprecedented demographic crisis, as recurrent plague epidemics shrunk the urban population from the original 110,000 citizens in 1300 to just 37,000 in 1427. Yet, as the race for repopulation seemed to intensify, so did creativity and artistic production. This project provides an alternative understanding of the early Renaissance, identifying ties between the demographic situation and the literary and artistic production of the time. Two ongoing concerns underscore the research: changes in female agency and modifications of social behavior in response to anxieties about fertility and population decline. By identifying the historical events that connect the concepts of human and intellectual fertility, it unveils the link between female reproductive duties and the iconography of childbirth, between family books and the anxiety of perpetuating the family name; between monumental state commissions and the public trauma of depopulation.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Art History and Criticism; Renaissance Studies; Women's History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2020 – 7/31/2020