Cohen, Elizabeth S. 1946–

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Cohen, Elizabeth S. 1946–

(Elizabeth Storr Cohen)


Born 1946; married Thomas V. Cohen. Education: Harvard University, B.A., 1967, M.A., 1969; University of Toronto, Ph.D., 1978.


Home—Canada. Office—York University, 262 Vanier College, 4700 Keele St., Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3, Canada.


York University, Toronto, Canada, associate professor of history and humanities, chair of history.


(With others) Rinascimento Al Femminile, Laterza (Rome, Italy), 1991.

(With husband, Thomas V. Cohen) Words and Deeds in Renaissance Rome: Trials before the Papal Magistrates, University of Toronto Press (Buffalo, NY), 1993.

(With Thomas V. Cohen) Daily Life in Renaissance Italy, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2001.

Contributor to various books and academic journals.


Elizabeth S. Cohen was born 1946. She was educated at Harvard University, earning her undergraduate degree in 1967, and completing her master's degree two years later. From there she continued her education at the University of Toronto, where she earned her doctorate in 1978. Cohen serves on the faculty of the arts at the University of York in Toronto, Canada, where she is an associate professor of history and humanities, as well as the chair of history. Her primary areas of research and academic interest include the history and culture of Europe, with a concentration primarily before 1800. Within this topic, she is particularly interested in women and the roles of gender and issues of cross-cultural concern. She has written articles for various academic journals on subjects including prostitution in Rome during the sixteenth century, the meaning of the illustrated love letter in a social context, the importance of young Italians maintaining their virginity during the late Renaissance, and father-daughter relationships within the family in seventeenth-century France. Cohen appears at conferences and lecturers periodically, where she offers presentations on similar topics. She has also written Rinascimento Al Femminile, Words and Deeds in Renaissance Rome: Trials before the Papal Magistrates, and Daily Life in Renaissance Italy, the latter two with her husband, Thomas V. Cohen.

Daily Life in Renaissance Italy offers readers a survey of Renaissance Italy, with a particular focus on life during the 1600s. The book is sure to include information on both the urban and the rural lifestyle, though city life is more frequently considered to have been the hub of Renaissance culture. However, as the bulk of historically accurate information has survived pertaining to the major cities, in this case Rome, Florence, and Venice, those cities and the daily life within their borders ultimately make up the lion's share of the discussions included within the book. The Cohens strive to include all aspects of daily life, not just the artistic endeavors that pertained to the most notable aspects of the era but more commonplace activities, emotions, and circumstances. The authors look at the societal structure, including the government, showing how it represented not an overbearing, all-powerful entity but just one aspect of the power balance so important during this period in Italian history. Other powerful institutions that made up the social fabric included Christianity, honor, the evaluation of status, and local customs. The book also captures the authors' enthusiasm regarding the topic and reflects the variety of details that serve to create the whole.

Guido Ruggiero, writing for the Journal of Social History, remarked that "one of the most notable things about this volume is that the authors have conceived of daily life in a broader way than usual. Daily life here is not simply the material culture of the period, but rather a rich landscape of complexity and difference that interrelates in suggestive ways the material and the spiritual, the individual and the group, the high and the low." He concluded of the Cohens: "They have made the most of the scholarship that exists: the everyday world that they present is at once alien and familiar, strange, and exciting." Kenneth R. Bartlett, in a review for Renaissance Quarterly, opined of the book that "the style is clear, breezy and perfect for the general reader or undergraduate, although with sufficient original scholarship from primary sources to interest a specialist. There is beneath the disarming charm of the narrative a sophisticated understanding of the complexity of early modern Italian life and how the various elements are deeply intertwined."



Catholic Historical Review, October 1, 1994, Thomas Kuehn, review of Words and Deeds in Renaissance Rome: Trials before the Papal Magistrates, p. 810.

Journal of Social History, June 22, 2003, Guido Ruggiero, review of Daily Life in Renaissance Italy, p. 1071.

Law and History Review, September 22, 1995, Julius Kirshner, review of Words and Deeds in Renaissance Rome, p. 420.

Reference & Research Book News, February 1, 2002, review of Daily Life in Renaissance Italy, p. 30.

Reference Reviews, January 1, 2002, review of Daily Life in Renaissance Italy.

Renaissance Quarterly, December 22, 2002, "Italy, the Enduring Culture," p. 1386.

Sixteenth Century Journal, December 22, 1994, Anne Jacobson Schutte, review of Words and Deeds in Renaissance Rome, p. 1007; March 22, 2003, review of Daily Life in Renaissance Italy, p. 221.

Times Literary Supplement, July 29, 1994, D.S. Chambers, review of Words and Deeds in Renaissance Rome, p. 27.

Voice of Youth Advocates, October 1, 2002, review of Daily Life in Renaissance Italy, p. 311.


York University Web site, (June 18, 2008), faculty profile.