Renaissance humanism and ethnicity before race

The Irish and the English in the seventeenth century

By Ian Campbell

Renaissance humanism and ethnicity before race


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8836-0
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: November 2013
  • BIC Category: HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / Stuart Era (1603-1714), SOCIAL SCIENCE / Discrimination & Race Relations, History, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General, Ethnic Studies, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Modern History, Sociology, United Kingdom, Great Britain, Social & cultural history, HISTORY / Europe / Ireland, European history


The modern ideology of race, so important in twentieth-century Europe, incorporates both a theory of human societies and a theory of human bodies. Ian Campbell's new study examines how the elite in early modern Ireland spoke about human societies and human bodies, and demonstrates that this elite discourse was grounded in a commitment to the languages and sciences of Renaissance Humanism. Emphasising the education of all of early modern Ireland's antagonistic ethnic groups in common European university and grammar school traditions, Campbell explains both the workings of the learned English critique of Irish society, and the no less learned Irish response. Then he turns to Irish debates on nobility, medicine and theology in order to illuminate the problem of human heredity. He concludes by demonstrating how the Enlightenment swept away these humanist theories of body and society, prior to the development of modern racial ideology in the late eighteenth century.


Introduction: defining race
1. Two problems in the history of Irish humanism and ethnicity
2. English humanism against Gaelic Irish society
3. Gaelic humanism against English Irish society
4. Humanists and genealogists on nobility and the human body
5. Irish Doctors and theologians on heredity and the human soul
6. Irish Enlightenment, human societies, and human bodies
Select bibliography


Ian Campbell is a postdoctoral fellow in the Centre for Neo-Latin Studies, University College Cork

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