Color photograph of the head and shoulders of a light skinned woman with blond hair wearing large red glasses and smiling at the camera; she stands next to a tree in an outdoor wooden location

S. Elizabeth Penry

National Endowment for the Humanities Rome Prize
September 5, 2022–February 6, 2023
Associate Professor, Department of History, Fordham University
Project title
The Italian Renaissance in Diaspora: Jesuit Education and Indigenous Modernities
Project description

Guido Ruggiero argued that the Italian Renaissance did not end but rather continued and expanded through Jesuit education. Jesuit missions enabled a “diaspora” of Renaissance ideals of justice, grounded in Mediterranean notions of rights and sovereignty. This was as true in the Jesuit missions in Naples as it was in the Viceroyalty of Peru, where sixteenth-century native Andeans refashioned Italian Renaissance ideals in their own cultural context to create hybrid notions of popular sovereignty and participatory democracy. I plan to complete critical research for my book project on the widening-out of Italian Renaissance ideals and the profound impact they had on indigenous people. My study reveals an earlier and radically different genealogy for modernity: one that originated in the Mediterranean Atlantic world, was shaped by Jesuit education, and then enacted by indigenous Andean people. Research in Roman archives is crucial to completion of this project.