Based on archival material from the cities of Genoa, Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, and Naples, as well as on published sources, such as travel journals, and artistic representations, this volume presents an original view of the culture of early modern Italy. The book addresses particular themes - specifically those of perception and communication - as well as serving to exemplify modes of analysis in the currently developing field of historical anthropology. In the first part of the book, Peter Burke examines the stereotyped ways in which contemporaries perceived social groups such as saints, beggars, and working women, and shows how these stereotypes were used, consciously and unconsciously, both by the authorities and by ordinary people.
'Burke's style is deft and sure at the same time as it is erudite. He brings together deep knowledge, primary documentation, systematic analysis, dazzling insight. In the anthropological style, he often starts with a text. Like a historian, he puts that text into a context and examines how the structure, process or activity under scrutiny changes over time. The volume is well written, tells stories of human as well as scholarly interest, and analyses texts and events in lively and suggestive ways, often with a surprise ending or twist to the explanation.' Professor Louise Tilly, New School for Social Research