Dooley, Brendan 1953- (Brendan Maurice Dooley)

views updated

Dooley, Brendan 1953- (Brendan Maurice Dooley)

PERSONAL:

Born August 4, 1953. Education: Syracuse University, A.B., M.A., 1978; University of Chicago, Ph.D., 1986.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Jacobs University, P.O. Box 750 561, Bremen D-28725, Germany; fax: 49-421-2003303. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, historian, editor, translator, and educator. University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, assistant professor, 1985-87; Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH, assistant professor, 1990-91; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, associate professor, 1991-99; Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany, professor of history, 1999—. Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, member, 1989-90. Medici Archive Project, chief of research, 1999-2002.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Rome Prize, American Academy in Rome, 1994-95; Jean Monnet fellow, European University Institute, Florence, Italy, 1998-99.

WRITINGS:

(With H. Seifert and R. Strohm) Giovanna Gronda, La Carriera Di Un Librettista: Pietro Pariati Da Reggio Di Lombardia, Mulino (Bologna, Italy), 1990.

Science, Politics, and Society in Eighteenth-Century Italy: The Giornale De' Letterati D'Italia and Its World, Garland (New York, NY), 1991.

(Editor and translator) Italy in the Baroque: Selected Readings, Garland (New York, NY), 1995.

The Social History of Skepticism: Experience and Doubt in Early Modern Culture, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1999.

(Editor, with Sabrina A. Baron) The Politics of Information in Early Modern Europe, Routledge (New York, NY), 2001.

Giovanni Baldinucci, Quaderno: Peste, Guerra E Carestia Nell'Italia Del Seicento, Polistampa (Florence, Italy), 2001.

Science and the Marketplace in Early Modern Italy, Lexington Books (Lanham, MD), 2001.

Morandi's Last Prophecy and the End of Renaissance Politics, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2002.

Energy and Culture: Perspectives on the Power to Work, Ashgate (Burlington, VT), 2006.

Contributor to books, including History of Science, Oxford History of Italy, Encyclopedia of Social History, Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment, History of Universities, and Encyclopedia of Childhood.

Contributor to periodicals and journals, including Annales, Histoire, History of Science, Sciences Sociales, Journal of Modern History, Journal of the History of Ideas, Journal of the History of the Classical Tradition, Journal of European Economic History, and Journal of Social History.

SIDELIGHTS:

Brendan Dooley is a writer, historian, editor, and educator whose scholarly career began in 1985, when he became an assistant professor of history at Notre Dame University. Postings at Cleveland State University and Harvard University followed. Dooley has been a professor of history at Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany, since 1999. He holds a Ph.D. from University of Chicago, which was granted in 1986. He has contributed more than eighty articles and related works to periodicals and scholarly journals, and is a frequent contributor to books and nonfiction collections. As a scholar, Dooley is interested in areas such as media history; the material culture of early modern Europe; the history of culture from 1500-1800; the history of science from 1500-1800; Italy and the Iberian world; Mediterranean economies; and the overall history of knowledge, noted a biographer on the Jacobs University Web site.

With The Social History of Skepticism: Experience and Doubt in Early Modern Culture, Dooley has "produced an impressive account of the rise of skepticism about the political and historical information in the early modern Italy," commented H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online contributor Olga Borymchuk. "His thoroughly researched and lucidly written book touches upon problems of belief, doubt, and objectivity at the time of perpetual religious wars and social upheavals, flourishing polemics on the legitimacy of government and rulers, and break-through scientific discoveries," Borymchuk continued. This "elegant new work by Dooley that seeks to explain the seventeenth-century crisis of skepticism" through a study of various pieces of written media, including newsletters, or avvisi, letters by readers of these newsletters, historical propaganda, and political theory books, noted Jacob Soll in the Journal of Interdisciplinary History. Dooley suggests that the avvisi created an atmosphere in which doubt and skepticism could take root and grow, encouraging publications that fostered doubt in the authority and reliability of the written word even as they criticized the sources of political authority in Italy and elsewhere. "By the end of the seventeenth century, published information was so unreliable that it threatened the whole concept of discoverable truths," reported Daniel W. Hollis, writing in History: Review of New Books. "With writers as vendors of ideas and readers as critical consumers, a significant transformation occurred according to Dooley, that transformed the way people perceived and understood news of the world in which they lived," noted Mack P. Halt in the Journal of Social History. In tracing how this fundamental role of written work fell apart and was recovered, Dooley has "written an important account of the breakdown and recovery of belief in truth," Hollis remarked. Dooley's "subtly crafted work is of major importance for early modern cultural and intel- lectual historians," Soll concluded. "It sheds light on unknown facets of seventeenth-century political culture and shows that the cultural origins of the Enlightenment reach further back than has been previously considered." Borymchuk concluded, "Dooley's work is a splendid read and a valuable addition to the early modern history of ideas and journalism."

Dooley is the editor, with Sabrina A. Baron, of The Politics of Information in Early Modern Europe. The book contains eleven essays that examine "political news, newsbooks and newspapers in the seventeenth century," reported reviewer Mark S.R. Jenner, writing in the English Historical Review. Four of the pieces focus on news reporting and dissemination in England, while the remaining contributions look at news in other geographical locations around the world, including Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Scandinavia. Subjects covered include French instruments of political information; the evolution of shorthand as a tool for covering breaking news, trials, and other events requiring on-the-spot reporting; the origins of the German press; and ways in which the development of print journalism changed perceptions and understanding of what constituted "history" and what made up the "present." Dooley himself contributes an article on the ways in which the press can provide intellectual freedom for those willing to participate in it and engage with it.

In Morandi's Last Prophecy and the End of Renaissance Politics, Dooley delves into seventeenth-century Italian history to tell the story of Orazio Morandi, the Abbot of the Santa Prassede monastery in Rome, a well-known and much-consulted astrologer and a possible victim of vengeance by Pope Urban III. "Brendan Dooley has an eye for a good story. He also knows how to tell one, a skill evident in his latest book, which has all the elements of a modern-day thriller," commented Renaissance Quarterly contributor Laura Smoller. Dooley begins his story at Morandi's end: at the book's opening in 1630, Morandi has been found dead in a cell at the Tor di Nona Prison in Rome. The official line was that Morandi died from a fever. The physician who prepared the abbot's death certificate testified that there were no signs of poisoning or other foul play. However, rumors soon began to circulate that Morandi was slain on the order of Pope Urban III.

Urban was incensed at Morandi's recent audacious prediction that the pope was soon going to die. He was arrested and brought to trial because of this prediction, and as the trial proceeded, a great deal of information with the potential to embarrass or ruin several prominent citizens and members of the Roman elite began to come to light. Morandi was an astrologer, a profession which enjoyed greater popularity and credibility in the middle of the seventeenth century. Pope Urban himself was a believer in astrology, and had gratefully accepted many of Morandi's other predictions. "Like a number of scholars before him, Dooley rightly emphasizes the centrality of astrology in the lives of people living in an age before antibiotics and without social and political institutions (police, fireman, insurance brokers, and so on) to cushion them in times of hardship," commented Allison Coudert in Church History. Morandi sought to put astrology on a par with other scientific disciplines of the time. Morandi, Dooley notes, found that his knowledge of astrology and the occult was his passport to social status and material comfort. He served as a broker of forbidden knowledge, maintaining a library of some 500 books on the occult, many of them forbidden by the Church, that he gladly loaned out to several powerful patrons. Morandi himself began to offer a wider range of astrological and magical services to his grateful clientele. It was also found that under Morandi's supervision, the San Pressede monastery "was the epicenter of a hubbub of illicit activity, including, besides the perhaps obvious sexual shenanigans of poorly supervised monks, the copying and circulation of prohibited books, astrological consultations, and magical operations," Smoller noted. In this context, Morandi's trial threatened to expose the identities of many of those to whom he loaned books or performed services. Further, "exposing the libertine culture of Morandi's monastery would be hugely embarrassing to the Church. In these circumstances, Morandi's death could not have been more welcome," Coudert stated. Dooley scours the still-existing records of Morandi's trial to rescue a once-obscure figure from the obscurity of history. In doing so, Coudert commented, he "adds appreciably to a more nuanced and complex understanding of the social, religious, and political forces that shaped the scientific revolution and, with it, the emergence of the modern world."

Again serving as editor, in Energy and Culture: Perspectives on the Power to Work, Dooley brings together fourteen papers that explore the complex relationships between "energy use, resources, and technologies and human culture," reported a contributor to Reference & Research Book News. Dooley arranges the papers in sections that address the relation- ship of energy to history, science, politics, lifestyle, public opinion, and other areas of human culture and endeavor. Dooley and his contributors offer the opinion that understanding past relationships between energy and culture can help modern society deal with similar problems and interactions now and in the future.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

America, September 23, 2002, "‘Ambitious’ Prophet?," review of Morandi's Last Prophecy and the End of Renaissance Politics, p. 27.

American Historical Review, December, 2000, Barbara Shapiro, review of The Social History of Skepticism: Experience and Doubt in Early Modern Culture, p. 1792; April, 2003, John M. Headley, review of Morandi's Last Prophecy and the End of Renaissance Politics, p. 600.

Church History, March, 2006, Allison Coudert, review of Morandi's Last Prophecy and the End of Renaissance Politics, p. 190.

English Historical Review, September, 2002, Mark S.R. Jenner, review of The Politics of Information in Early Modern Europe, p. 984; November, 2003, Brian Vickers, review of Morandi's Last Prophecy and the End of Renaissance Politics, p. 1387.

European History Quarterly, April, 1993, Gino Bedani, review of Science, Politics, and Society in Eighteenth-Century Italy: The Giornale De' Letterati D'Italia and Its World, p. 305.

History: Review of New Books, winter, 2000, Daniel W. Hollis, review of The Social History of Skepticism, p. 89.

International History Review, June, 2003, Donald Weinstein, review of Morandi's Last Prophecy and the End of Renaissance Politics, p. 399.

Isis, June, 2003, Richard J. Blackwell, review of Morandi's Last Prophecy and the End of Renaissance Politics, p. 377.

Journal for the History of Astronomy, August, 2003, review of Morandi's Last Prophecy and the End of Renaissance Politics, p. 341.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History, autumn, 2000, Jacob Soll, review of The Social History of Skepticism, p. 280.

Journal of Modern History, June, 1994, Paula Findlen, review of Science, Politics, and Society in Eighteenth-Century Italy, p. 407; June, 2002, John Christian Laursen, review of The Social History of Skepticism, p. 396.

Journal of Social History, summer, 2001, Mack P. Halt, review of The Social History of Skepticism, p. 984.

Notes and Queries, September, 2002, Massimiliano Demata, review of The Politics of Information in Early Modern Europe, p. 426.

Reference & Research Book News, November, 1995, review of Italy in the Baroque: Selected Readings, p. 11; August, 2001, review of The Politics of Information in Early Modern Europe, p. 227; November, 2006, review of Energy and Culture: Perspectives on the Power to Work.

Renaissance Quarterly, winter, 2003, Laura Smoller, review of Morandi's Last Prophecy and the End of Renaissance Politics, p. 1185.

Sixteenth Century Journal, summer, 2001, Christopher S. Celenza, review of The Social History of Skepticism, p. 533.

William and Mary Quarterly, October, 2000, Christopher Grasso, review of The Social History of Skepticism, p. 839.

ONLINE

H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/ (May 22, 2008), Olga Borymchuck, review of The Social History of Skepticism.

Jacobs University Web site,http://www.jacobsuniversity.de/ (May 22, 2008), author profile.