Paris Harper Lecture

The University of Chicago Alumni Association

April 10, 2014: 7:00 PM - 9:30 PM

Paris Harper Lecture with Niall Atkinson: Getting Lost in the Renaissance: The Geography of Urban Disorientation


University of Chicago Center in Paris
6 Rue Thomas Mann
Paris, France

Event Details

A merchant in 14th-century Naples relieves himself at night in an alley, a wood carver in 15th-century Florence ignores a dinner invitation, the poet Petrarch arrives in Rome for the first time, and a Roman servant returning to his native city can't remember where his mistress's palace used to be. What do these characters have in common? They are all hopelessly lost. Premodern city dwellers constructed their sense of self by linking their fates to the people and structures with which they lived. But what if they found themselves in unknown territory or discovered that the streets they thought they knew had become a series of alien encounters? Contrary to prevailing assumptions about the emergence of the modern individual as a self-made entity, these episodes reveal just how unstable one's identity was and how difficult it was to "know thyself." Atkinson will explore the relationship between familiar and unfamiliar urban spaces in the Renaissance and what this can tell us about how we can participate in the construction of modern cities and make them meaningful to our everyday lives.


No Charge


Register Online

Deadline: 4/8/2014


7:00 PM-7:45 PM: Registration and Reception

7:45 PM-9:30 PM: Presentation and Discussion

Speaker Profiles

Niall Atkinson (Speaker)

Niall Atkinson is the Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Art History and the College. His research has focused on the urban experience of the Renaissance city. He just completed a book manuscript on the soundscapes of Renaissance Florence. His current research explores the more immersive sensorial perception of the urban environment, which has led him to study travel writing and personal descriptions of foreign territories, cities, and monuments by travellers in the premodern Mediterranean world.


Chanel Hampton 

(773) 702-2157