The Italian Renaissance has traditionally been regarded as a critical turning point in the history of Europe; the vital stepping stone between the Age of Faith and the Age of Reason. This classical view of the Renaissance as the birth of individualism and modernity, as formulated by thefamous Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt, is challenged and reassessed in this intriguing and diverse group of essays. _ Leading scholars from different disciplines use a variety of approaches - textual and literary criticism, social anthropology and gender studies - to re-evaluate the period as a whole. the book is divided into three section, which discussthe model of death and rebirth and its political function; the social context of revival in terms of corporate and individual patronage; and the renaissance body as a political metaphor and social gesture. What emerges is an account of a mixed and lively culture which avoids the old generalizationsand gives a fresh view of this most creative and fascinating period of European history.