Davis, Robert C. 1948-

views updated

Davis, Robert C. 1948-
(Robert Charles Davis)


PERSONAL:

Born 1948. Education: Stanford University, B.A., 1980, M.A., 1986; Johns Hopkins University, Ph.D., 1989.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Department of History, Ohio State University, 248 Dulles Hall, 230 W. 17th Ave., Columbus, OH 43210. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Ohio State University, Columbus, professor of Italian Renaissance and early modern Mediterranean history.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Institute for Advanced Study fellowship, 1991-92; American Academy in Rome fellowship, 1996-97; Fulbright Foundation fellowship, 1996-97; Folger Library fellowship, 1999-2000; Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, 2000-01; Rockefeller Foundation at Bellagio fellowship, 2001.

WRITINGS:


Shipbuilders of the Venetian Arsenal: Workers and Workplace in the Preindustrial City, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1991.

The War of the Fists: Popular Culture and Public Violence in Late Renaissance Venice, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1994.

(Editor, with Judith C. Brown) Gender and Society in Renaissance Italy, Longman (New York, NY), 1998.

(Editor, with Benjamin C.I. Ravid) The Jews of Early Modern Venice, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 2001.

Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500-1800, Macmillan (New York, NY), 2003.

(With Garry R. Marvin) Venice, the Tourist Maze: A Cultural Critique of the World's Most Touristed City, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 2004.

SIDELIGHTS:

A professor of Italian Renaissance and early modern Mediterranean history, Robert C. Davis is especially known for his knowledge of Venetian culture during these periods, and he has written and edited several books about Venice. His works focus on various specific aspects of Venetian society. For example, his The War of the Fists: Popular Culture and Public Violence in Late Renaissance Venice discusses in great detail the unusual tradition once practiced there in which individuals and groups of lower-class men would fight each other in what became public spectacles complete with public viewing areas for audiences. Although the events were officially outlawed by the city's leaders, Venice's elite tacitly supported such fist fights and followed their progress avidly. Factions, organized by family or by worker groups, vied for the honor of winning these fights, which were often staged on one of the many bridges in Venice. Winning these battles brought elevated social status and other honors, such as having one's name immortalized in song, to the victors. The rewards for the elite in supporting the practice are not as clear, though they obviously enjoyed the spectacles. "Overall, The War of the Fists sheds valuable light on previously unexplored aspects of early modern Venetian society and raises intriguing questions about the relationship between elite and popular culture," commented Dennis Romano in the Renaissance Quarterly. Brian Pullan, writing in the English Historical Review, called the study "an incisive book which skillfully combines vivid description and systematic, intelligent analysis."

Along with Benjamin C.I. Ravid, Davis edited the essay collection The Jews of Early Modern Venice, which contains "high quality" essays that enrich "Judaic studies, Renaissance studies with a particular emphasis on Venice, and urban studies," according to History: Review of New Books critic Donald B. Epstein. The essays enlighten readers on how Jews, fleeing persecution at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition, settled into ghettos in Venice, and, although they contributed greatly to the economy there, were kept separate from the rest of Venetian society by deep-seated prejudices. Kenneth Stow asserted in a Renaissance Quarterly review that the scholarly collection "offers a unified portrait, that points the way toward understanding modes of acculturation: how Jews might be insiders and outsiders at the same time."

More recently, Davis completed a book on his favorite city and its modern-day challenges in Venice, the Tourist Maze: A Cultural Critique of the World's Most Touristed City. Here, he laments how the city has become such a major tourist attraction that it is no longer a genuine functioning city for its residents, but is rather a kind of amusement park filled with nothing but hotels and restaurants for outsiders. Although David V.L. Macleod wrote in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute that the reader does not get to know the actual Venetian well and that Davis's theme has been addressed before, the critic described it as a "readable, entertaining, and well written" text that contains "an abundance of rich detail dealing with aspects of Venice."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:


PERIODICALS


English Historical Review, February, 1997, Brian Pullan, review of The War of the Fists: Popular Culture and Public Violence in Late Renaissance Venice, p. 191.

History: Review of Books, winter, 2002, Donald B. Epstein, review of The Jews of Early Modern Venice, p. 70.

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, September, 2005, Donald V.L. Macleod, review of Venice, the Tourist Maze: A Cultural Critique of the World's Most Touristed City, p. 601.

Renaissance Quarterly, autumn, 1996, Dennis Romano, review of The War of the Fists, p. 617; winter, 2002, Kenneth Stow, review of The Jews of Early Modern Venice, p. 1396.

ONLINE


Ohio State University Department of History Web site,http://history.osu.edu/ (July 5, 2006), career information on Robert C. Davis.

About this article

Davis, Robert C. 1948-

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article