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Public Renaissance: Urban Cultures of Public Space between Early Modern Europe and the Present

23 July 2019

In June 2019, a research team led by Prof. Dr. Sabrina Corbellini started the project PURE: ‘Public Renaissance: Urban Cultures of Public Space between Early Modern Europe and the Present’ at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Groningen. The central concept of the project is that of a ‘Public Renaissance,’ whose intent is to examine both the urban cultures of public space in the early modern era, and to set this into dynamic dialogue with the recently invigorated discourse around the agency of public space in shaping contemporary events.

Urban Cultures of Public Space between Early Modern Europe and the Present

By proposing a cross-chronological enquiry that sets the relatively remote formative period of many European cities into dialogue with the contemporary world, the researchers explore and reveal how the past is inscribed in the material culture of the public spaces we still inhabit, and how these contribute to shaping actions and events in the present. The project considers the early modern period (c. 1450–1700) in the urbanized heart of Europe, with particular attention to case examples between the Netherlands (Deventer, Leiden, Amsterdam), Germany (Hamburg), Spain (Valencia, Madrid), Italy (Trento, Venice, Bologna, Florence) and England (Exeter and Bristol).

Working together

Working with an interdisciplinary team of architectural, social and cultural historians, in collaboration with non-academic partners from the museum/heritage sector, and shaping the research agendas in dialogue with contemporary planners, architects and policy-makers, the group of researchers will probe the continuities and ruptures that shape urban spaces of the past in relation to contemporary urban interaction. In addition to primary archival research methods, they will work with locative media technologists to create smartphone apps that enable an engagement with histories of place, to propose an innovative place- based research methodology. While historical enquiry is at the heart of the project, through digital tools and interaction with regional city museums, the researchers will communicate the memories and meanings of public space in European cities.

Additional information

For more information about the HERA project you can contact prof. dr. Sabrina Corbellini via

About the Athenaeum Library

The Athenaeum Library in Deventer is the oldest city library in the Netherlands. It preserves a collection of 154 medieval manuscripts and handwriting fragments, about 725 (post) incunabula, 35,000 old prints dated back up to c. 1900, and various special collections. These books can be viewed in the reading room at Klooster 12. Digitized books from the collection, including around 50 manuscripts, can be viewed on the library’s website. The Athenaeum Library also welcomes groups for guided tours and guest lectures. Athenaeum Library, Klooster 12, 7411 NH Deventer, For the catalog, opening times and other practical information, see the website.

Last modified:23 July 2019 1.01 p.m.
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