McClure, George W. 1951–
McClure, George W. 1951–
Born August 20, 1951. Education: Brown University, B.A., 1973; University of Michigan, Ph.D., 1981.
Office—University of Alabama, 4616 27th St. E., Tuscaloosa, AL 35404. E-mail—[email protected]
Historian, educator, and writer. University of Michigan, Flint, visiting assistant professor, 1983-84; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, lecturer, 1984-85; University of Dallas, Dallas, TX, visiting assistant professor, 1985-86; University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, from assistant to full professor of history, 1986—. Also discipline representative in history to the Alabama Commission on Higher Education's Articulation and General Studies Committee, 1998—.
Phi Beta Kappa (member of executive committee, 1998-99; vice president, 1999-2000; president, 2001-02).
Outstanding Professor in the University Honors Program, University of Alabama, 1991; Burlington Northern Foundation Award for Excellence in Professional Scholarship, 1993; Bankhead Grant and Cecil and Ernest Williams Faculty Enhancement Award, 1993, for research in Florence, Italy; National Endowment for the Humanities summer grant, 1997, for research in Venice, Italy.
Sorrow and Consolation in Italian Humanism, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1991.
The Culture of Profession in Late Renaissance Italy, University of Toronto Press (Buffalo, NY), 2004.
Contributor to periodicals, including Renaissance Quarterly, Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and American Historical Review. Referee for "Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies" series, Arizona State University Press, 2002.
George W. McClure is a history professor who is especially interested in the Renaissance. In his first book, Sorrow and Consolation in ItalianHumanism, published in 1991, the author provides an extensive analysis of consolation within Italian Renaissance culture. He focuses primarily on how the humanists' interest in despair and their work to open up discussion of despair in both social and personal terms represented a shift toward heightened secularization in European thought. The author analyzes the works of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century writers and how they treat bereavement, illness, fear of death, despair, and misfortune. According to the author, writers of this period often tried to forge a view that focused on a more realistic perspective on living and dying. To do so, they often relied on Stoic, Peripatetic, Epicurean, Platonic, and Christian thought. The author also presents his theory that it was the humanists' pursuit of providing solace within the realm of duty that provided both a form and an incentive for discussion of prominent Renaissance themes concerning the dignity of human beings, immortality, and the sanctity of worldly endeavor.
The Culture of Profession in Late Renaissance Italy looks at the second half of the Renaissance when the debate about vocational choice and the nature of profession turned. Relying on sixteenth-century resources, McClure examines professional themes as portrayed in comic, festive, and popular print and culture.
Writing in the book's preface, the author notes: "This literature reveals much about professional identity in a period when the moral ‘boundaries’ of vocation were expanding from the religious to the secular realm, and the social boundaries of professional status were becoming somewhat more fluid." The author went on to write in the preface: "From the late fifteenth century on … the learned treatment of secular profession increasingly came to be complemented with a more popular praise and rebuke of profession that encompassed more fully merchant, artisan, and service occupations as well as elite ones. In the realm of jokes, Carnivale songs, parlor games, memory books, encyclopedias, dress books, and even in mottoes in civic rituals, less learned genres engaged profession as a topic, and less learned vocations made their voice heard."
In his book, McClure writes extensively about Tomaso Garzoni, a monk who authored the encyclopedia Universal Piazza of all the Professions of the World. "The author's superb treatment of Tomaso Garzoni's Universal Piazza of All Professions of the World  marks the shift in cultural attitudes toward profession," wrote Barbara M. Fahy in the Historian. The book addressed more than 150 professions, juxtaposing the worlds of philosophers, poets, lawyers, physicians, merchants, artisans, teachers, printers, cooks, and chimney sweeps. William McCuaig, writing in the Renaissance Quarterly, noted "the increasing sympathetic interest of writers [at that time] in the lives, labor, and argot of members of the non-elite professions, down to and including porters, gondoliers, and prostitutes."
Stories and anecdotes include how Petrarch made fun of physicians for using rhetoric to accuse dead patients, thus absolving themselves of blame. Humanist Latin tracts display urban wit through songs and jokes that deride praiseworthy professions. In one tale, the widow of an academic vows never to marry another of the profession due to her husband's strength being all in his head and not in other vital parts of his body. While some scholars have pointed to an Italian Renaissance society that generally grew more aristocratic, McClure shows a wider and more democratic cultural diversity and professional ethos.
"The author allows the Renaissance voices to speak for themselves, and, consequently, he successfully uncovers shifting attitudes toward profession," noted Fahy in the Historian. Reviewer's Bookwatch contributor John Burroughs called The Culture of Profession in Late Renaissance Italy a "fascinating and scholarly contribution to history, literature, and … Renaissance studies."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
McClure, George W., The Culture of Profession in Late Renaissance Italy, University of Toronto Press (Buffalo, NY), 2005.
American Historical Review, February, 1993, review of Sorrow and Consolation in Italian Humanism, p. 197; October, 2005, Rudolph M. Bell, review of The Culture of Profession in Late Renaissance Italy, p. 1280.
Catholic Historical Review, July, 1991, John McManamon, review of Sorrow and Consolation in Italian Humanism, p. 507.
Choice, June, 2005, N. Bisaha, review of The Culture of Profession in Late Renaissance Italy, p. 1888.
Historian, summer, 2006, Barbara M. Fahy, review of The Culture of Profession in Late Renaissance Italy, p. 393.
Journal of Modern History, June, 1994, Diana Robin, review of Sorrow and Consolation in Italian Humanism, p. 400; December, 2006, Carole Collier Frick, review of The Culture of Profession in Late Renaissance Italy, p. 973.
Journal of the History of Ideas, April, 1991, review of Sorrow and Consolation in Italian Humanism, p. 349; April, 1991, review of Sorrow and Consolation in Italian Humanism, p. 349.
Reference & Research Book News, November, 2004, review of The Culture of Profession in Late Renaissance Italy, p. 40.
Renaissance Quarterly, spring, 1992, John Monfasani, review of Sorrow and Consolation in Italian Humanism, p. 140; summer, 2005, William McCuaig, review of The Culture of Profession in Late Renaissance Italy, p. 590.
Reviewer's Bookwatch, October, 2004, John Buroughs, review of The Culture of Profession in Late Renaissance Italy.
Sixteenth Century Journal, winter, 2005, Thomas Keuhn, review of The Culture of Profession in Late Renaissance Italy, p. 1238.
Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies, July, 1992, Victoria Kahn, review of Sorrow and Consolation in Italian Humanism, p. 721.