Dr Monica Azzolini
Honorary Fellow; Early Modern European History
- Director of Equality and Diversity (2016-)
- Equality and Diversity Officer (2009-2012)
- Member of the Athena Swan Equality and Diversity Committee (2014-)
- Coordinator of the Medicine, Science and Technology Research Group, HCA
Affiliated research centres
I was born and raised in Milan, Italy. After graduating from the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, I obtained both my MPhil and PhD from the University of Cambridge. I taught for a term at Cambridge before spending a brief period in Sydney, Australia. My early career was marked by a truly hectic peregrinatio academica across the globe! In 2002 I moved to the USA to take up an academic post at the University of Washington, Seattle. In 2004 I crossed the Pacific again to move back to Sydney and take up a lectureship in the School of History at the University of New South Wales. In 2005/6 I spent nine idyllic months at Villa I Tatti, The Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence. It was at I Tatti that I started working actively on my recent book on astrology in Sforza Milan. In the winter of 2006/7 I held a short-term Frances Yates fellowship at the Warburg Institute, London, where I benefited from access to a unique library and lively intellectual exchange with Warburg staff and fellows.
I finally settled down in the autumn of 2007, when I joined the University of Edinburgh as a lecturer. I have been happily teaching in Edinburgh ever since. In 2013 I was promoted to Senior Lecturer.
I am in a dual-career relationship and I have two pre-schoolers.
- Member of the Editorial Board of Renaissance Quarterly
- Discipline Representative for the History of Medicine and Science, Renaissance Society of America
- Committee Member of the Leonardo da Vinci Society
- International Member of the Editorial board for the series ‘La Nuova Meridiana (Storia)’, Le Lettere
- External examiner, MSc in the History of Medicine, Newcastle University (2008-2011)
My academia.edu page: http://edinburgh.academia.edu/MonicaAzzolini
Summary of research interestsPlaces:
- Early Modern
My research interests lie at the intersection of the history of science and the cultural and political history of Italy in the Renaissance. Thematically, I am particularly interested in how 'scientific' knowledge is produced and circulates in early modern societies. I am also keen to explore how this knowledge shaped the lives of early modern men and women in practical ways. Within this broader framework I have recently concentrated on the practice of astrology within Italian Renaissance courts to illustrate the many ways in which astrological counsel was used to shape both public and private action. The outcome of this research has now appeared in The Duke and the Stars: Astrology and Politics in Renaissance Milan (Harvard University Press, 2013) and a series of related articles.
Current research activities
Image from the Crawford Collection
I am presently engaged in a number of projects related to the broader applications of astrology in Renaissance and Early Modern society. I have now collected a wealth of material that can complement and enrich my early findings on Renaissance Milan. My new book project aims to explore the political dimension of astrology in Early Modern Italy more broadly by expanding both the geographic and the chronological scope of my researches to include the courts of Mantua, Ferrara, Florence, and Rome. I also plan to devote an article to the study of astrology and sexuality with particular attention to marriage and procreation. This last project situates itself into a broader investigation of the rites and rituals of fertility and procreation in Early Modern Italy, a project that will allow me to return to the field of history of medicine proper.
Image from the Crawford Collection
My current research remains engaged with the history of astrology and astronomy. In recent years I have been particularly keen to promote a better understanding of the history of astronomy and astrology among the wider public. This has translated into a series of lectures in the history of astronomy revolving around the Crawford Collection in the History of Astronomy housed at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. I have devised a collaborative blog that functions as an active forum of discussion of all things related to this topic. The blog has a dedicated section about the Crawford Collection and another with podcasts of all the annual lectures that have taken place since 2009. To go to the blog, please click here.
I am also particularly keen to develop collaborations with colleagues engaging in research on the political uses of scientific knowledge, namely the ways in which politics shaped (or was shaped) by scientific ideas.
UG courses taught:
- Pre-honours: European History 1 (40 credit); Introduction to Medieval Europe 2B: c.1200-1450 (20 credit); European History 1a (20 credit).
- Honours options: Gender and Sexuality in Early Modern Europe (20 credit); Medicine, Science and Politics at the Courts of Early Modern Europe (20 credit).
- History in Theory (school-wide)
- History in Practice (school-wide)
- 4th-year dissertations
UG courses taught in the academic year 2016/17:
- Pre-honours: Early Modern History: A Connected World
- Cultures of Disasters: History and the Environment, ca. 1500-1750
- 4th-year dissertations
PG courses taught:
- Core Course: MSc Renaissance and Early Modern; Gender History; Historical Research Methods (pathway)
- Postgraduate options: Medicine, Science, and Society in Late Medieval and Renaissance Italy and Medieval and Renaissance Italy: Texts, Objects and Practices (Intensive Option taught in Edinburgh and Florence)
- MSc and PhD supervision
PG courses taught in the academic year 2016/17:
- The Scientific Revolution in Global Perspective
- Course Course: MSc Renaissance and Early Modern
- MSc and PhD supervision
Monica Azzolini, The Duke and the Stars: Astrology and Politics in Renaissance Milan (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2013).
Italian Renaissance Diplomacy. Texts in Translation, ed. by M. Azzolini and I. Lazzarini, Durham Mediaeval and Renaissance Texts (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2017).
Monica Azzolini, "Refining the Astrologer's Art: Astrological Diagrams in Bodleian MS Canon.Misc. 24 and Cardano's 'Libelli Quinque' (1547)", Journal for the History of Astronomy 42(1) (2011): 1-25.
Monica Azzolini, "The Political Uses of Astrology: Predicting the Illness and Death of Princes, Kings and Popes in the Italian Renaissance", Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41(2) (2010): 135-145 (13,000 words).
Monica Azzolini, "The Politics of Prognostication: Astrology, Political Conspiracy and Murder in Fifteenth-Century Italy", History of Universities 23(2) (2009): 6-34.
Monica Azzolini, "Annius of Viterbo Astrologer: Predicting the Death of Ferrante of Aragon, King of Naples", Bruniana & Campanelliana XIV /2 (2008): 575-588.
Monica Azzolini, "In Praise of Art: Text and Context of Leonardo's Paragone and Its Critique of the Arts and Sciences", Renaissance Studies 19 (4) (2005): 487 - 510.
Monica Azzolini, "Anatomy of a Dispute: Leonardo, Pacioli, and Scientific Entertainment in Renaissance Milan", Early Science and Medicine 9(2) (2004): 115 -135.
Monica Azzolini and Adam Mosley, "Astronomy and Astrology" in Philip Ford, Jan Bloemendal and Charles Fantazzi eds., Brill's Encyclopaedia of the Neo-Latin World (Leiden - Boston: Brill, forthcoming 2014). The Renaissance Society of America Texts and Studies Series.
Monica Azzolini, “L’insegnamento dell’astrologia e dell’astronomia” in Dario Mantovani et al, eds. Almum Studium Papiense. Storia dell’Università di Pavia, vol. 1, t. 1 (Milan: Cisalpino Editore, 2013), 562-568.
Monica Azzolini,“Consiglieri celesti: astrologi e politica nel Rinascimento Italiano” in Astrologia e divinazione nel Rinascimento, ed. Germana Ernst (Rome: Carocci, 2012), 189-204.
Monica Azzolini, "Exploring Generation: A Context to Leonardo's Anatomies of the Female and Male Bodies" in Alessandro Nova and Domenico Laurenza, eds, Leonardo da Vinci's Anatomical World: Language, Context and "Disegno" (Venice: Marsilio Editore, 2011), 79-97.
Monica Azzolini, '"Leonardo da Vinci's Anatomical Studies in Milan: A Re-examination of Sites and Sources"' in Jean A Givens, Karen M Reeds and Alan Touwaide, eds, Visualizing Medieval Medicine and Natural History, 1200-1550 (Ashgate, 2006), 147 - 176.
Monica Azzolini, '"Reading Health in the Stars: Politics and Astrology in Renaissance Milan" in Gunther Oestmann, H Darrel Rutkin, Kocku von Stuckrad, eds, Horoscopes and Public Spheres (Walter de Gruyter, 2005), 183-205.